There’s a revolution occurring with advertising at the moment: Consumers don’t like digital ads, and they’re using technology to block them like crazy.
Ads take up bandwidth, can slow page loads, and eat up a mobile data plans (here’s a nice visual to back that up). Consumers also don’t like them because they’re invasive, distracting, and sometimes just plain bad. The increase in the use of ad-blocking extensions has really grown in the past couple of years, according to statistics from Adobe and advertising tech firm PageFair.
What we’re experiencing is the creation of a new era of advertising. When advertising on television was new, it took a while to develop into the sophisticated beast we know today—”Mad Men” was (partially) about that very development. Now we have million-dollar Super Bowl ads, and kittens that go viral (almost 24 million views on YouTube as of writing).
Digital advertising is undergoing similar growing pains. And consumers are the ones pushing these changes. Technology is giving consumers a level of empowerment they’ve never before had—the closest equivalent has been turning down the volume or skipping over the ads with you DVR.
Ad blocking has been available for computers for a while, and now it’s infiltrating mobile. When Apple released iOS9, it came with the ability to add ad-blocking extensions to Safari. Android devices already have ad-blocking capabilities. Jamaican mobile company Digicel has recently signed up with ad-blocking company Shine to stop ads for all their customers.
When it was discovered that popular ad blocker AdBlock Plus, which is owned by Eyeo, was allowing some advertisers through their digital barricades if they paid, there was a bit of an uproar.
Consumer feedback rules
When Honeymaid used same-sex and interracial couples in their ads, they used the consumer feedback to create the next ad. Delivery newbie Jet.com made some of their customers’ purchases into ads for a campaign. Advertising has become a continuous conversation with consumers, who now have more avenues than ever to voice their opinions and experiences.
The big trade-off
Problem is, we’re used to free by now. But we forget that much we interact with online isn’t actually free—it’s paid for by advertising. One creator has had a change of heart about his popular ad blocking application. Marco Arment pulled Peace from Apple’s app store after only a few days, even though its was the store’s top app, because, as he wrote on his own website, he didn’t feel right about how the app could negatively affect some sites, like publishers that rely on advertising to stay afloat. As he points out, Peace, like other ad-blocking software, employed a blunt-force approach: all ads, or no ads (excepting the ability to whitelist entire sites). But there’s another way.
Quality reappears, and not a moment too soon
Consumers, at least according to this survey, don’t care that ad blockers hurt websites. Bad, spammy-looking ads can strip any bit of value or credibility from a site, and it’s advertisers’ responsibility to create ads that viewers want to see (or, at least, tolerate).
Some sites are rethinking their advertising and that’s good news, says one media expert who says this is the time to choose high quality, relevant advertising. This means re-inventing digital ads and reconsidering what’s a preferable outcome: clicks, being ignored, or engagement.
Want more insight on effective ad strategies? See Everyone Has A Story To Tell.