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The Great Ad Blocking Debate

For anyone who has ever researched a purchase or service online, this experience will be a familiar one: that pair of boots or car rental service you were looking at will pop up as a highly targeted ad next time you’re online. It will follow you in social media newsfeeds, in banners and block ads; you may even get an email telling you conversationally, “Hey, you forgot this.”

Thanks to a combination of the amount of information we submit about ourselves online and increasingly sophisticated tracking software, no action on the internet goes unnoticed. And consumers have had enough.

According to 2015 research from PageFair in partnership with Adobe, there are now 198 million active ad blocking users worldwide. These are users who want to enjoy content online without distracting autoplay ads that slow page loads, users who don’t want to feel shadowed or constantly “poked” with reminders of product searches or “yelled at” by ads that, in the truest sense of the word, create a disruptive online experience.

The flip side to this, of course, is the knowledge that these ads are the lifeblood that help websites – and the advertisers – survive. As the PageFair research noted, the estimated costs to publishers of ad blocking in 2015 was around $22 billion. For a long time now, publishers have struggled to find a viable solution to generating revenue, be it through paywalls, membership-style services or the right mix of ads. Now it seems we are reaching a tipping point about the realization that there has to be some sort of pay-off for accessing quality content, but personalization and intrusive ads can go too far – which is bad news for any brand’s image.

As we wrote about recently, customer experience should be at the top of any marketer’s agenda. In this hyper-connected world, damage to a brand can occur at light speed, yet recovery from such hits takes much longer.

According to this article from the New York Times, the solution may be found in a lesson from the 1990s spam pandemic: lists of the worst offenders were compiled by companies such as Spamhaus, and were then blocked by email providers. An updated version of this would be an advertising industry-wide commitment to avoid using techniques such as autoplay video and audio, and being less aggressive with online tracking.

At ARTÉMIA, we always advise clients to map the customer lifecycle first, rather than starting with the array of technological solutions available to reach them. Now more than ever, it’s about being relevant both in message, timing and medium.

 

If you’d like to discuss your online advertising strategy with a member of the expert team at ARTÉMIA, as ever, please get in touch.




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