The ad blocking debacle grew to new heights in 2015, with the ad industry looking to solve the problem before it gets out of hand in 2016.
“Consumers have turned to ad blocking as a way to voice their concern and return to their preferred user experience,” Ben Barokas, founder and CEO of publishing solutions company Sourcepoint, told Marketing Dive.
The problem has been in the spotlight in the last year especially, with executives at the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the World Federation of Advertisers warning advertisers to put the user experience first before the issue grows further out of their control.
“As technologists tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience,” Scott Cunningham, senior VP of technology and ad operations at the IAB, said in a statement. “We messed up. Looking back now, our scraping of dimes may have cost us dollars in consumer loyalty.”
Ironically, the more press that ad blocking technology receives, the more users it amasses. One of the most popular ad blockers, AdBlock Plus, had its U.S. user base grow 44% between April and October this year, reaching more than 13 million users. In 2015, ad blocking also made its way into mobile devices thanks largely to Apple’s iOS 9 update that included ad blocking capabilities. Experts warn ad blocking is now making its way onto video. PageFair and Adobe project ad blocking technologies will cost the ad industry more than $41 billion in 2016 – meaning, marketers are far from off the hook.
To find the middle ground between serving ads and keeping consumers happy, advertisers need to pursue transparency and focus on truly improving the ad experience.
The solution to ad blocking will come from of “those that co-create content with suppliers or partners, or those who are much more wired into customer feedback at a granular level,” Robert Wollan, global managing director for Accenture Strategy, told Marketing Dive.
Sourcepoint’s Barokas said it will take a re-focusing on the quality of creatives and an open dialogue between media partners about how to engage users that have installed the technology.
With an eye on repairing the consumer-advertiser relationship, which needs to take priority in the year ahead, “a balance needs to be struck between sustainability and providing relevant and helpful advertising to the consumer,” DMA’s O’Keefe said. “The consumer may need to be willing to have ads appear in their feeds without ad blockers, but the onus is on publishers and marketers [to fix this].”