How Adblocker Use is Rising—and Why Advertisers Need to Talk About It

by Phil Duffield

Posted on 05-15-2018

Have you ever tried to nego­ti­ate with a six-year-old? Good luck. It’s eas­i­er to talk with demand­ing cus­tomers or staff than with a six-year-old deter­mined to get their hands on that box of Coco Pops on the super­mar­ket shelf. Two weeks of eat­ing their veg­eta­bles every night in exchange for a box of sug­ary cere­al that turns the milk choco­latey? Or how about we restrict their screen time? Because if it weren’t for the adverts, this kid might nev­er have heard of Coco Pops. If I could place an ad block­er on the tele­vi­sion, would I indulge?

As a par­ent, hear­ing those jin­gles over and over, I might be tempt­ed, but as an adver­tis­er, I know that adver­tis­ing con­tent has value—we just need to fig­ure out how to deliv­er it in a way that engages, not irri­tates, our audience.

The Adblock Epidemic

We’ve got some work to do. Results from recent research are not pretty:

On the mobile side, 615 mil­lion mobile devices now have ad block­ers, and 74 per­cent of mobile device own­ers say they’ll leave a web­site if it blocks their adblock­er. This is huge. Mobile is sup­posed to be the big growth area. We’re los­ing audi­ences at an accel­er­at­ing pace, erod­ing the effec­tive­ness of what we do, which requires reach­ing those large-scale audiences.

This adblock­er sit­u­a­tion has been a prob­lem for sev­er­al years, and the indus­try seems to be ignor­ing it. Agen­cies are still buy­ing from ad net­works and invest­ing a ton of mon­ey in per­for­mance adver­tis­ing, which is the main dri­ver here, because peo­ple get sick of irrel­e­vant ads and spam­my tech­niques. We are get­ting smarter, using data to ensure that we are deliv­er­ing rel­e­vant ads, but so far, it’s not enough to stop peo­ple from using adblockers.

We need to put ad block­ing back on the agen­da, to talk about it, and come up with ways to engage cus­tomers so thor­ough­ly that they want to see our adver­tis­ing con­tent. Brands, agen­cies, and ad tech ven­dors all have to be dri­ving this agen­da. The way to fix this prob­lem is to tack­le it at its roots. The indus­try has to be smarter about what we do with data and technology.

Block the Adblock­ers by Putting Cus­tomers First

Adobe’s dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing plat­form is all about cre­at­ing expe­ri­ences, rather than inun­dat­ing peo­ple with spray-and-play ads until they click. With Adobe Expe­ri­ence Cloud’s suite of tools, we can be sure to deliv­er the right mes­sage to the right audi­ence in the right envi­ron­ment, engag­ing our audi­ences with rel­e­vant, mean­ing­ful ads so they enjoy the experience.

Omnichan­nel mar­ket­ing sys­tems such as Adobe’s serve ads across mul­ti­ple chan­nels and devices, using lots of data. We’re able to iden­ti­fy what peo­ple are watch­ing and read­ing to learn what they like. We can use what we know to tar­get audi­ences and deliv­er great expe­ri­ences. How might that play out?

Intro­duc­ing Jessica

Maybe you’re sell­ing a hol­i­day. One of your tar­get cus­tomers, Jes­si­ca, is a 23-year-old woman liv­ing in Lon­don, whose job keeps her on the run. She’s look­ing for an escape from the dai­ly grind. At home, while watch­ing _Scan­dal _on lin­ear TV, she sees an ad for a chain of trop­i­cal resorts.

Because the TV ad is deliv­ered via an address­able ser­vice, you know the view­er is in a big city, so your ad empha­sis­es soli­tude and relax­ation. Using Ad Cloud, you not only know that Jes­si­ca saw the ad, but that she’s a young adult, so the next day, when Jes­si­ca is on her mobile device, you show her an ad with an offer tai­lored to a young person’s bud­get. Jes­si­ca jumps at the offer and heads to the resort. There, while she’s relax­ing at the pool drink­ing a daiquiri and watch­ing a video on her tablet, the hotel deliv­ers a great offer for din­ner for one at its restaurants.

Meet Alli­son

Anoth­er cus­tomer, Alli­son, is also 23 years old, but she’s from a much small­er, much less hec­tic city. She’s a social but­ter­fly and always wants to be where the action is. While she’s watch­ing the lat­est episode of The Bach­e­lor on her Con­nect­ed TV, she sees an ad for the same resort, but this time adver­tis­ing a pool­side con­cert and party.

Through Ad Cloud’s device graph, you know that she saw the con­cert ad, so the next day, while she’s on her lap­top search­ing for vaca­tion get­aways, you deliv­er her the same trav­el pack­age as Jes­si­ca, via a search ad. And she’s off! While at the resort, Alli­son pulls up Face­book to post some pho­tos. Know­ing that she con­vert­ed from the ear­li­er offer, the hotel uses data from Adobe Ana­lyt­ics to tar­get her news­feed with a video ad adver­tis­ing back­stage pass­es at that night’s concert.

The same audi­ence. The same objec­tive. Two vast­ly dif­fer­ent jour­neys. Two vast­ly dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences. It’s the best of every world since you’ve not only made your cus­tomers hap­py, but you get to do one of the most excit­ing, cre­ative­ly sat­is­fy­ing, and reward­ing tasks we’ve ever had in front of us as marketers—creating great adver­tis­ing expe­ri­ences that wow your customers!

Focus on the Expe­ri­ence, Not the Sale

There’s some recent good news to point the way. A sur­vey by the Inter­net Adver­tis­ing Bureau showed that two-thirds of adblock users could be per­suad­ed to turn them off. Four of the five meth­ods for con­vinc­ing them are all about improv­ing the user experience:

Anoth­er approach is native adver­tis­ing that focus­es on con­tent, not sales. A great exam­ple is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Net­flix and The Wall Street Jour­nal for the launch of the Net­flix show “Nar­cos.” The result­ing piece reads like real jour­nal­ism but car­ries dis­claimers from the WSJ that it is spon­sored con­tent. There are no call to action but­tons, no block­age of con­tent, or any oth­er dis­trac­tions that scream “this is an ad!”

The mes­sage here is clear: peo­ple want a bet­ter expe­ri­ence. They don’t want to be bom­bard­ed by cheap tech­niques such as auto­scrolling ads. Too few adver­tis­ers are think­ing about this right now. If we don’t start pro­vid­ing users with a bet­ter expe­ri­ence, engag­ing them the way those cere­al com­mer­cials engage my six-year-old, they’ll keep turn­ing away by installing adblock­ers. As I said at the start, we need to talk. Here’s a great place to start—leave your com­ments below. And be sure to click through, to read about how Kiip is solv­ing the prob­lem in an imag­i­na­tive way.

Topics: Digital Transformation, customer experience, digital marketing, mobile, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA