The Real Deal with Ad Blockers

In a recent New York Times article, Mike Isaac wrote, “On one hand, many digital ads are a nuisance…Yet the ads also serve as a business foundation for many digital publishers to provide content to readers.” So what is the deal with digital ads? How do we make them disappear? What are the consequences of making them disappear? How does this affect brand strategy? If you’ve been asking yourself these questions and more, seek no further. In this article, we’re taking a deeper dive into digital ads and the ad blockers that so many people are migrating towards.

Why Ad Blockers?

What many people don’t know, is that ad blocking started several years ago among members of the gaming community, who didn’t want their user experience interrupted by the slow loading time and pop-up characteristics of digital advertising. Slowly this practice caught on in the mainstream, and now there are several different plug-ins for both desktop and mobile that allow a user to block unwanted ads from following them around the internet. Currently, Ad Blocker Plus – a German based product – is the most frequently used software with over 60 million active users.


Who is Using Ad Blockers?

As of the 2015 Ad Blocking Report from The Pagefair Team and Adobe, it was estimated that 45 million people in the United States, and 198 million people globally were blocking ads. When we break down this vast number and look into the nitty-gritty of who is using ad blockers and why, some interesting insights bubble to the surface. The main concern of the 25-34 age bracket is that ads drain their battery life on their phones and they are looking for solutions and work arounds to solve this inconvenience. When examining those that fall into the 55-64 age bracket, the concerns are more typical of what one might see when asking a general panel about ad blockers. They voice that they do not like ads which are personalized based on their browsing history, and also that they see too many ads and that many feeling annoying or irrelevant. Falling even further down the rabbit hole and examining based on gender, we can see that males are more concerned with ads compromising their online privacy, while females are more inconvenienced by the fact that they have to watch video ads before their chosen video on a platform.


How do Ad Blockers Affect Brands?

The largest repercussion of ad blockers, that many do not even take into account when they install the software, is that businesses are losing money in droves. In 2015, Adobe predicted that the number of people using ad blocker software would cause a $21.8 billion blocked revenue stream. While many may think that this is doing damage to only large brands who can afford to take the hit, the truth is that many of those suffering are mom and pop shops who can easily afford digital advertising over other, more traditional advertising avenues.


What Can Brands Do to Adapt?

For those of us that are not the Googles, Facebooks or Amazons of the world who can pay to have their ads white-listed by the very programs who are producing ad blocking software, the simple work around is native advertising. According to Christ Tuff of 22squared, “People don’t mind advertising as long as it’s relevant.” While some brands and companies focus in on how to beat the ad blocking platforms, many experts argue that the focus should instead be shifted to making relevant content that serves consumers as opposed to annoys them. This, in turn, is what the ad blocking companies claim they’ve been doing all along – working to help clean up the internet.


No matter where you fall in this sweeping trend, the solution seems to be an evolution of content. For more insight or an analysis of how your brand can adapt, reach out to us. We’d love to help!

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