Return of the Block

Return of the Block

Ad blocking is still a hot topic amongst advertisers and brands, but what does it mean to you?

Ad blocking is still a hot topic amongst advertisers and brands, but what does it mean to you? You’re probably asking what is it, and why should I care? After all, your media activity might be still predominantly across traditional channels with only a small investment in digital, particularly mobile. Well dear reader, while that may be the case, with the rapid move to digital communication it’s important to be abreast of ad blocking issues as they may impact the success of any planned campaign in the future. Firstly, let’s start with the basics.

What is Ad Blocking?

According to Wikipedia, ad blocking (or ad filtering) is the removal or alteration of advertising content in a web page and/or app where advertising can exist in a variety of forms including pictures, animations, embedded audio and video, text, or pop-up windows and can employ autoplay of audio and video.

What is the Story with Ad Blocking of late?

Ad blocking isn’t a new thing, in fact it’s been around since 2008 with software extensions such as AdBlock. However, as of a few months ago, Apple announced the introduction of ad blocking technology to their Safari mobile app in the latest iOS update. A bit of a big deal considering that 26% of those owning a smartphone device happen to have Apple/iOS. A lot of heavy hitters in the AdWorld (both brand and publisher wise) are a little miffed by these so called digital ‘toll booths’ raised just when they got the hang of utilising this emerging channel. For a full rundown of the ins and outs, read an earlier article on the subject here.

Your audience is in mobile – yes, YOUR audience!

In Nielsen’s latest reports, there are 18,404,000 people in Australia who are actively surfing online with 12.5 million going to their mobile as their ‘go-to device’ – surpassing desktop and tablets. Australians are tethered to their portable devices, spending 33 hours a month on average – 29 hours just for apps. The reason for its popularity reflects the Aussie way of life, especially those in metro regions. As we lead busy and productive lives, our mobile devices are with us every step of the way – whether it’s to pay a bill, renew a driver’s licence or just wanting a quick look around online.

Why do people block ads?

There are a number of reasons for this and they’re no different from traditional media. People only respond to ads that are relevant to them. With newspaper ads, you can just flick past to the next page. With radio, you can tune out and make a cuppa. With television, it gives you a perfect opportunity to use the restroom. With digital, there are SO many messages that you can’t help but feel (as a consumer) overwhelmed with brands barking orders at you to ‘buy this’, ‘eat that’, ‘do this’, ‘go there’ etc.

Apart from those who feel advertising (as a whole) is so disruptive and invasive, another reason is quite an obvious one but not as well known – Malware. It involves injecting malicious or malware-laden advertisements into legitimate online advertising networks and webpages (even high traffic news sites aren’t immune to it). Because this so called ‘advertising content’ can be inserted into high-profile and reputable websites, it provides malefactors an opportunity to push their attacks to web users who might not otherwise see the ads, due to firewalls, more safety precautions, or the like. With the help of ad blocking technology, pesky malware forces are thwarted in their attempts to ruin the good name that we advertisers have.

A world without ads….

Here’s the thing, while we can groan and moan about how advertising is deceptive, invasive, blah, blah, blah, a huge majority don’t mind being advertised to – so long as it’s relevant to their wants and/or needs. Don’t take my word for it, here from the peanut gallery (aka Reddit):

“I would enjoy seeing real information from car companies about what they did to improve their vehicles. But do we get in-depth, interesting info? No. We get advertised for things we just searched for on Google” – M4053946

“I’m not against advertising if it’s not overly intrusive and doesn’t require the running of tons of script.” – vamp07

“Please show me ads. Seriously, please show me ads. I would like to see ads for new books, new music, new videogames, new movies and new TV shows. Surely with access to my Facebook info and my browsing history, you can just put me in with the lot that wants to see trailers for Fallout 4 or an announcement about the new Dre, right?” – antihostile

I can go on but there are over 100,000 comments on this topic – approximately 60% to 40% in support of advertising.

What does that mean to you? Chances are you may have wondered what you are doing lately to engage with your audience, whether it’s to promote your destination, an event held at your local government area or just promoting sustainable (‘green’) living towards your residents and businesses. While these folks read the paper and listen to their local radio, they are on their mobile – a lot. Mobile is not only a great way to reach your audience in a granular, targeted manner but because there are so many people on it, so the chances of hitting your target audience is very high. If anything, ad blocking is a minor hurdle – an inconvenience in a similar vein as the recent road closures on George Street. After all, it’s there. It’s not going away. And we’re just going to have to deal with it. How will you?

For anyone who wants to know more about the impact of ad blocking, or to just say hi to yours truly, please email me anytime!

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