Ad Blocking Software Will Crush Online Advertising As We Know It
You may want to reconsider pending online advertising buys and revisit 2016 digital ad strategies given the most prominent Association within the online advertising industry, the IAB, admitted on October 20th that
“We Messed Up”
The unprecedented disclosure by Scott Cunningham, SVP of Technology & Ad Operations
“We lost sight of our social and ethical responsibility to provide a safe, usable experience for anyone and everyone wanting to consume the content of their choice.
“As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience….
Both assertions no doubt had media publishers as far as the virtual eye could see in a full throng panic over having the rug pulled out from under them and possible implications for online ad revenue expectations already set for 2016.
On behalf of his industry Scott essentially affirmed that for the last seven or so years online publisher’s revenue grab took precedence over the online experience of those they exist to publish for.
“We build advertising technology to optimize publishers’ yield of marketing budgets that had eroded after the last recession. Looking back now, our scraping of dimes may have cost us dollars in consumer loyalty…
Everyone in the digital industry agrees the IAB’s revelation was prompted by the increase of online ad blocking software and its overwhelming adoption by users who’re aware of its availability.
eConsultancy recently cited Trendera’s research that
♦ Slightly more men than women use ad blocking software, although the difference is negligible.
♦ 44% of males and 42% of females use ad blockers
♦ In terms of age groups, the split is fairly similar again. 49% of 13-20 year olds use ad blocking software while the figure for both 21-35 year olds and 36-50 year olds is 50%.
♦ These figures suggest the problem is not confined to any particular group, but rather prolific across all internet users.
And those stats don’t take into consideration that awareness of ad blocking software is just coming to light. As internet users become more conscious of ad blocking options the use of it will arguably sky-rocket. Paid per click (PPC) ads are already ignored by 70-80% of those who see them.
Paying only for ads that come into view, are clicked on, engaged with or show conversions (among other metrics) is all well and good but the expense of employing resources to manage online advertising that’s ignored or never seen by the intended audience is a variable that shouldn’t be overlooked.
In-house or outsourced marketers tasked with creating, deploying and managing online ad campaigns comes at a cost which isn’t necessarily justifiable in the face of low or no ROI ad performance. Position online ad spends so related ROI metrics direct future strategies or risk throwing money into the proverbial digital black hole money-pit.
IAB pulling the curtain back and exposing online ad publishers for poor user experience practices comes as no surprise to throngs of internet users. We’ve all been annoyed by overly intrusive ads that “blocked” are ability to reach the content we’re online to find. Especially when using mobile devices.
I don’t know about you but I’ve never clicked on a mobile ad intentionally. The ad proportion to screen size makes clicks sometimes unavoidable and I always feel bad that someone’s paying for what I clicked by accident or that they’ll interpret the click as mobile ad success.
Mobile is definitely the future but before investing too heavily in mobile ads consider the large percentage of unintended clicks. Undertake due diligence researching true performance potential and stay abreast of IAB mobile guidelines coming down the pike. High integrity publishers will adhere to IAB recommendations and it’s in your best interest to consider those ad sellers first over others.
So with all the IAB’s admissions (of which no one can argue) what’s the solution?
Well in an “effort to restore balance and bring user experience back into alignment with digital ads”, IAB is launching the L.E.A.N. Ads program.
L.E.A.N stands for:
• Ad choice supported
• Non-invasive ads
According to Cunningham:
“These are principles that will help guide the next phases of advertising technical standards for the global digital advertising supply chain.”
The jury’s out on how many in the industry will actually come to embrace the L.E.A.N. concept. Without question it’ll be a shift from business as usual and there’ll be growing pains along the way. Many a publisher has yet to move away from impression based online ads despite IAB guidelines in effect last year recommending publishers charge only for ads viewed by a user for x.x seconds.
Having worked in the digital marketing industry since the 90’s when the first online ad made its appearance, I’ve had a front row seat for the online advertising evolution. And having led online advertising sales at both print and broadcast national media outlets I’m well aware of those who’re in anxiety mode over 2016 online ad revenue implications – especially when 40% of publishers describe their digital ad revenue as shrinking or static and that’s before IAB’s admission.
But despite the grown of many adversely affected in the industry – consumer’s voices have been heard. Change is inevitable because we the internet user are in charge – not brands, not publishers, not online ad sellers, buyers or marketers.
The consumer has overwhelming declared intrusive online ads aren’t an acceptable experience on any device. Every business, no matter what industry, product or service sold must come to the realization that
WE are in charge of our online experience & of deciding whether the experience does or doesn’t include online advertising
“The consumer is demanding these actions, challenging us to do better, and we must respond.”
Scott Cunningham, SVP of Technology & Ad Operations, IAB
Online advertising as is today has run its course and that really should come as no surprise to anyone. By this stage in the game online ad sellers should have diversified their digital product offerings to include more than online ads. Those who’re just now making diversification a priority or worse have yet to set up new digital revenue stream at all have many challenges ahead. I certainly wouldn’t want to be them.
As for Brands – in light of IAB’s admission and L.E.A.N. Ads Program recommendations – look toward adjusting 2016 online ad buy strategies and remain diligent to the related performance metrics. Not to mention recognize WE are in charge of our marketing experience so adapt according to our behavior and needs.
For more viewpoints and the state of online advertising, here’s a sampling of the best reads I’ve come across on the subject since IAB’s bombshell.