The Escalting Threat of Ad Blocking

Did you know that according to eMarketer, over 25% of internet users in the United States are going online at least once a month on a device with an ad blocker installed?  And the trend is escalating rapidly.

Given the number of internet users in the country, that is a massive number.  However, it actually makes sense.  Think about when you record your favorite TV show and then automatically fast-forward through all the commercials.  It’s the same thing…we are inundated daily with all types of ads while surfing.

As a consumer, I love the fact that I now have the control to block some of these ads.  As a marketer, not so much.  It presents an interesting challenge to marketers because if too many ads are showing on a particular site, users will just jump to another competing site.  Right now, use of these ad blockers is rapidly escalating on mobile devices and smartphones.

Google just recently announced that they will be releasing an ad blocker on Chrome next year.  It’s my understanding it that the ad blocker will be set as a default so users will have a better online experience, without a barrage of ads…except Google perhaps.

Ad blocking user penetration

I recently read an article that quotes eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna.  I think he hits the nail on the proverbial head.

“Ad blocking is a detriment to the entire advertising ecosystem, affecting mostly publishers, but also marketers, agencies and others whose businesses depend on ad revenue. The best way for the industry to tackle this problem is to deliver compelling ad experiences that consumers won’t want to block.”

I think of this statement as a call to action for marketers to rise to the challenge that is now part of our reality.  The good thing that comes out of this trend is that internet users have become much more sophisticated and discerning when it comes to ads and so have we in terms of customer centricity.  A recent study by Global Web Index came out this year on the State of Mobile Ad-blocking in 2017 .  It’s an interesting and very thought provoking read.

Here is a quick summary of key findings:
  • Mobile devices are starting to catch up in terms of ad blocking, but it still is predominantly used on desktops and laptops.  Only 22% of current ad-blocker users are blocking ads on their smartphones (meaning only 15% of US internet device owners block ads on mobile).
  • Only about half of internet device owners in the USA are even aware that they can block ads on their mobile devices.  Of those aware and using ad blockers tend to skew younger.
  • Frustration seems to be the primary driver in using ad blocking tools.  Not surprisingly, users are most likely to state that ads are “intrusive, they are irrelevant, or that there are simply too many of them.” I found it interesting that privacy was also listed as a driver.
  • 1 in 3 smartphone owners feels that they see too many ads when browsing the mobile internet and yet a large section of this group are currently unaware of mobile ad-blocking.

Ad Blocking

So, where does that leave us?

I think it leaves us with more questions than answers and lots of food for thought.  That said, we all see where the trend is going and are going to need to evaluate our next moves.  The clear takeaway for me has to do with relevance and audience centricity.

I for one think this points us towards publishing more relevant content and adapting a more advertorial style ad format, as well as other content based formats. This trend also puts a spotlight on how imperative buyers personas and customer journey mapping has become.

In addition, I think we will also see some more moves towards native advertising because it blends in well with content and is generally less intrusive. Branded content or sponsored content is another solid strategy to think about.  All of these scenarios are a win-win for both target customers and for marketers.

How is your organization affected by the trend towards ad blocking?

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!


Related Article:  4 Powerful Tools for Content Curation