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Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in All Matters SEO |

Navigating in an Era of Adblockers

Laura Grissen
Laura Grissen

Latest posts by Laura Grissen (see all)

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­­1.) What are Ad Blockers?

For internet users, ads can be very frustrating. Research shows that ads can be most frustrating to Millennials who are the fastest growing demographic. Many Millennials describe ads as disruptive, irrelevant, annoying, slow, data heavy, unsafe, etc. In addition, many content creators have taken the liberty of flooding their sites with advertisements.

What if someone told you that all this could be removed with the click of a button?

This is the threat that advertisers, publishers and other free content providers face in today’s marketplace with the growing adoption of evasive adblocking software.

Why are adblockers considered a threat? Because ads are funding free content on the web. Without ads, free web content couldn’t exist. Imagine a scenario where all free content was paywall.

With adblocking technology, one can simply download and enable the software, then sit back while all the ads are removed from the online experience.

Some key drivers for turning to adblockers are annoying ad formats on desktop and mobile devices that disrupt the digital experience.

Ad Types that People Find Annoying

(Image Source: E-marketer)

2.) Who Uses Ad Blockers?

The scope of internet users with adblocking software has been growing rapidly year after year, particularly among Millennials.

According to E-marketer’s 2016 article, “Adblocking in the US will continue to cause headwinds for online advertisers, as the phenomenon is expected to grow by double digits this year and the next. In 2016, 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker, a jump of 34.4% over last year. Next year, that figure will grow another 24.0% to 86.6 million people.”

The growth of adblocking software is not just within the U.S., but extends globally, with the Asia-Pacific region leading.

Adblocking Browsers by Country

(Image Source: PageFair)

With the global growth of adblockers on both desktop and mobile devices, it is not surprising to see that companies are taking action.

3.) Facebook’s Response: Blocking the Blockers

High-profile companies like Facebook are not turning a blind eye to the heightened use of ad blockers. In Q2 2016, Facebook reported 96% of total revenues from advertising alone. As Facebook’s business model becomes more and more dependent on ad revenues, it isn’t surprising to hear that the media giant has taken up arms to combat this ever-growing software. As a first line of defense, Facebook pursued an aggressive approach by blocking popular ad blockers on desktop. Furthermore, Facebook is asking its users to help control the ads they see on the site in a platform-wide initiative to dissuade users from downloading ad blockers from the get-go.

Facebook launched Ad Preferences this year, a new initiative to address and improve the advertising experience on Facebook. Ad Preferences aims to provide users with the power to customize their advertising experience based on their interests and eliminate irrelevant ads from their news feed.

Ad Preferences

(Image Source: Skift)

In addition, Facebook has launched their Dynamic Ads for Travel product which allows brands to target consumers on Facebook and Instagram who have previously demonstrated interest in taking a trip on your website or mobile app. This capability allows companies like Marriott International to target relevant users at the right point in the purchasing funnel.

According to a 2016 article by Marketing Land, “We’ve never seen something that allows for this level of personalization at this level of scale,” said Andy Kauffman, Marriott International’s VP of digital marketing and in an interview. The brand was one of the first advertisers to use Dynamic Product Ads last year — when the format wasn’t really tailored for travel brands — because it offered a way for Marriott to get in front of a lot of people who may have visited its site on one device even when they were on another. And being able to get in front of those people with real-time room rates and availability “removes friction from the booking process,” Kauffman said.

By providing personalized and customizable ads that enhance the user experience, Facebook is hoping to dissuade users from enabling ad blockers before global adblocking adoption rates reach full potential on both desktop and mobile.

4.) Why Does this Matter?

Digital personalization is the future of the ad experience. Tailoring relevant and targeted ads towards each individual is the key to reaching millennial users. The digital advertising world has realized the threat posed by adblocking software and are taking action. Companies like Facebook and Google have teamed up on a new initiative aimed at tracking the quality of digital advertising in order to avoid sending customers to ad blockers. The delivery of the right ads to the right people at the right time has never been more important.

The war is on. Ad blockers are evolving and being adopted so rapidly they threaten millions in advertising revenue. Major digital advertisers are repositioning their strategy to respond, but at the same time the majority of web publishers continue to flood content with disruptive, irrelevant, annoying, slow, data heavy, and unsafe ads.

It is more important now than ever before for digital advertisers to step into the shoes of the consumer and ask: Are the ads I’m providing my consumers with valuable? If not, it’s time to reposition your strategy.