Ad Blockers: Is This The Digital Advertising Apocalypse?


Advertisers are often portrayed as the villain, out to ruin user’s otherwise pleasant online experience. Distributors of ad-blocking software are at the front of the mob, pitchfork in hand. Ad-blocking software gives users more control than ever over the amount of advertising they see by applying filters that block certain browsing requests, such as from a server to serve an ad Facebook ads, banners, YouTube ads, pop-ups, you name it but at a price.

“Without advertising, digital content and services either will vanish, or the cost of their production and distribution will come directly from consumers’ wallets,” says Randall Rothenberg of AdAge.

To put it simply, someone has to pay for the content. That someone can either be the advertisers or consumers, by way of subscriptions. What most people don’t realize is that advertising benefits the economy and keeps it functioning smoothly. Not only does it keep prices low, advertising also helps new products and new firms enter the market. Advertising makes the digital world go round.

Because users are now able to filter out ads, the number of viewers for online ads is potentially reduced, taking the effectiveness of a planned online ad campaign down with it. But if ad-blockers aren’t going away, what does that mean for advertisers? Depending on the source you consult, the consequences range from “eh, not that big a deal” to “the end of the world as we know it.”

Don’t panic.

A few facts put our minds at ease.

  • First, ad blockers are not standard browser features, which means consumers must download and manage an ad blocker extra steps a portion of consumers won’t take.
  • In addition, because the majority of consumers report using ad-blocking technology to improve their online experience (according to a survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau) we can presume consumers will be less likely to install ad blocking software if the ads they see are relevant. Automated online ad campaigns with specific targeting can assist digital campaigns by delivering ads to a chosen audience that is more likely to consider and appreciate the message.
  • And lastly, content is still king. Engaging, reliable and beneficial content will attract consumers, whether it is organic or paid advertising.

Be Prepared.

While we’re not scrambling to stock up on water bottles and canned veggies, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. The good news is that advertising methodologies are popping up all the time. It’s up to advertisers to be on top of the changes and continually stay in-the-know about what could benefit their brand.

“This is not a mortal threat to online marketing at this point,” says John McKie, GodwinGroup Managing Partner. “However, it is something that has to be addressed, and Godwin is adopting these best practices to mitigate the risk.”

  • Have a multi-channel digital strategy. Regardless of ad-blocking software, we as marketers shouldn’t be relying solely on digital display advertising. Glenn Owens, SVP Digital Strategy and User Experience, likes to call it a not-every-egg-in-one-basket approach. If we want to overcome lack of ad visibility, then we need to deliver the message in many channels, whether that’s creating new content on the site, pursuing public relations methods or engaging on social media, etc.
  • Along the same lines, it’s helpful to practice alternative traffic-building methods. Utilizing social media, executing on-page SEO and building links in your own and other websites can boost the number of visits to your website, increase brand visibility, and, in turn, advance your bottom line.
  • Content, content, content. As we mentioned above, content is king. With so much content floating around, creating engaging and beneficial messages that will catch the audience’s eyes makes all the difference. Once you have their attention, you can reel them in.
  • Build a trustworthy brand. AdAge notes a study by the IAB and the Edelman Berland communications firm which found that trustworthy and authoritative brands with relevant sponsored content can boost a site’s favorability with consumers, as well as their own brand favorability, by more than 50 percent.

Always keep in mind that, as advertisers, we have a responsibility to both 1) consumers, to provide non-intrusive advertising that adds to their experience instead of taking from it and 2) brands, to keep content relevant and in front of consumers. So, keep producing good content, and keep adapting to the never-ending changes of our digital playground. Onward and upward!


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