3 Reasons Why Media Agencies Shouldn’t Worry about Ad Blockers
As a concept, ad blockers are nothing new. First introduced as a web browser extension back in 2009, they provoked significant fear among media agencies and publishers alike. This is unsurprising, given that most companies and advertisers rely on advertising for the bulk of their revenue and utilise tracking and behavioural monitoring technology to analyse online user behaviour. Even today, a report by Adobe about the “existential threat of ad blocking” found that UK ad blocking had grown by 82% to reach 12 million active users in the 12 months leading up to June 2015.
When ad blockers were introduced, it seemed like they were going to cause huge economic damage to the underworld of the web (SEO, PPC, etc.). But in reality, they didn’t – agencies for these services are still alive and kicking.
Around this time last year, however, ad blocking software came back with a vengeance. Fear among marketing professions was reinvigorated when Apple announced that its iOS 9 update would support ad blocking technology.
Despite the ad blocking false alarm seven years ago, you could make the argument that the panicking was logical this time around. Mobile ad blockers are a different kettle of fish altogether. They actually have the potential to significantly enhance the user experience. When browsing via mobile, users are concerned about extra data usage, page time load, and, unlike when using 12-inch computer monitors, avoiding intrusive advertisements that can completely engulf a handheld screen.
Within just two days, Apple’s App Store saw multiple ad-blocking apps like Peace, Crystal, and Purify reach the top of the charts. In an interesting turn of events, however, Peace’s creator Marco Arment pulled the app just 36 hours after its launch. Despite being downloaded tens of thousands of times and generating large profits, the creator decided that the damage to advertising revenue overrode the benefits to individual user experiences, and he even offered refunds to all.
Arment’s ethically influenced decision in 2015 meshes interestingly with recent headlines that some media websites are ironically blocking users from visiting their sites if they are using ad blocking software that interferes with critical advertising revenue. Rapid adoption of ad blockers could be a blessing in disguise for marketing agencies.
1) The Ad Blocking Debate Is Gaining Significant Traction
The rise of the debate over the ethics of ad blocking means, as mentioned above, that some websites are actually banning ad blocking software altogether. Websites that provide content e.g., news sites) are essentially free versions of print. Therefore, users should be reminded that “content and services aren’t free” and encouraged to recognise the “indispensable character of advertising as a source of financing.” Not all advertisements are pointless – many, in fact, can be actually helpful.
2) Purification: The Birth of Respectful Advertising
More and more people are choosing to block advertisements. But those who use ad blocking software such as AdBlock Plus may be unaware of the Acceptable Ads Manifesto. The Manifesto states that companies are only allowed to serve ads if they meet the following “acceptable advertisement” criteria:
- Acceptable Ads are not annoying
- Acceptable Ads do not disrupt or distort the page content
- Acceptable Ads are transparent about being an ad
- Acceptable Ads are effective without shouting
- Acceptable Ads are appropriate to the site
The manifesto is helping to ensure that the bar is raised. No longer are users fooled into clicking advertisements or irritated by endless gimmicks and tactics. Advertisements are becoming more and more useful to users, heralding the birth of respectful advertising.
3) Restoration of Publisher-Audience Trust
As a direct result, the trust between publisher and audience is being restored by renewed efforts to add value, rather than time to the browsing experience. More importantly, advertisers can utilise users of ad blocking software to target high-value content.
So, whether ad blocking is banned altogether (unlikely) or criteria expands to other ad blocking software producers, it looks like there’s good news all around for advertising agencies.
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