Adblockers and why the digital industry needs to take action

First of all, I would like to say that I’ve been using the Adblock Plus plugin on my Firefox browser since they released version 1 years ago. I do have a few excluded websites like Facebook and popular news/community portals, so that I can keep an eye on the digital ad industry. However, I would definitely block all YouTube True View ads because the last thing you want, when watching a calming documentary about nature that you’re hoping will put you to sleep, is to get startled by the loud music of a cheesy, “Arabized” TVC.

The Adblocker plugin blocks ads from the very start. The best example of its effect on online businesses was seen in Google’s ad revenue fluctuation during the first three quarters of 2013. Google Adsense revenue, which has constituted 98% of Google’s overall income since 2003, suddenly stagnated, even leading to a momentary decline. Only after the mass adoption of programmatic advertising in the global market, and the introduction of more product/technology innovations on Google’s part, did their revenues eventually stabilize.

If you run a quick Keyword Traffic Report on Google Adwords (on a global level), you will notice that the “adblock” keyword skyrocketed on Google Search from January 2013 onwards.

The digital ad industry needs to take steps to mitigate the risks of such adblockers immediately. Luckily enough, the solution already exists: shift from traditional, direct-buy display ads to more user-friendly options that lack the intrusive and out-of-context nature of most online ads today. Here are two ways to do that:

By now, I would assume most digital marketers have somewhat of an idea about programmatic buying/advertising, so I’ll start with a scenario of how it can defy the Adblocker’s filters and in some cases, mutually evolve in order to deliver ads that are not “in your face” and are user opt-in. A methodology can also be developed into the Adblocker to ask the user (or learn from their online behavior) what type of content he is interested in consuming and then deliver custom-made ads that match the preferences of the viewer and reflect their recent online activity. This is the age of mass-connectivity after all and it’s about time everyone recognizes the value of data. The better your data is, the better your server’s algorithms work, which leads to better optimization and re-marketing in the future. Extracting valuable data and insights is very easy nowadays and is much more cost-efficient than in the past.

Adblocker developers need to work hand-in-hand with the major programmatic trading desks, ad/media agencies and e-commerce giants in order to fine-tune this process.

Native advertising has been around for a while now, but its definition has changed over time. In its most basic form, native advertising is something like advertorials but can be a lot more than that. As the name suggests, these are ads that are native to the overall content in which they appear. Not only are most served through trading desks – meaning you are applying strict audience selection filters via behavioral targeting and other advanced audience targeting methods – but they are also designed in a way that the design, colors, fonts and element sizes are in-line with the background content of the article, website section, and/or overall website branding as well.

Native ads have been found to achieve CTR performance figures as high as 11% (the normal display banner average is 0.20%), which also means that the potential customer had an enjoyable (or let’s say less annoying) experience in comparison to traditional display ads. And, needless to say, a happy customer is the most likely candidate to buy your product and perhaps, even advocate for it.

Follow Joe on Twitter: @joeyleq

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Joe Maari

Joe Maari was the former lead on digital at OMD in Lebanon. As a life-long IT geek, Joe has a passion for technology and actively seeks out the latest innovations to deploy in media campaigns.

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