Combatting the Rise of Ad Blocking - Get Lean to Keep âem Keen | DMA

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Combatting the Rise of Ad Blocking - Get Lean to Keep âem Keen


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Ad blocking is THE hot topic right now. Media coverage has been huge, and thanks to the BBC news even my mum thinks she is all clued up about ad blocking! With the emergence of Apple’s iOS 9, Safari is now compatible with ad blocking software, making ad blocking possible on iPhones for the first time. Contrary to reports, Apple are not enforcing ad blocking, that being said, they are enabling us to block ads. A powerful & reputable brand like Apple can have a serious impact on consumer behaviour. So what does this mean for the digital advertising industry?

As an advertising agency, we were obviously concerned about the anti-advertising activism; however the important thing to note is that our campaigns would likely be largely unaffected. This is because the most common method of ad blocking is to prevent the ad call out itself and therefore this means that no impression is requested and we won’t be charged.

In March 2015, iOS accounted for over half all time spent on mobile sites in the US. The dramatic introduction of ad blockers for mobile and desktop means fewer ads to sell, less revenue for publishers, and ultimately less content online for the general public. Lose, lose right? YouTube recently announced that for £10 a month you can have ad free video viewing. YouTube and Spotify may be the first to start to charge viewers for ad free content but they certainly won’t be the last. We ‘the consumer’ are forcing their hands, the question is did the public really know what they were getting themselves into?

The Guardian reported earlier this year that the UK is the first country where 50% of all ad spend is digital. As the landscape shifts to digital we have become accustomed to ‘free’ content online. But that is just it, what the public have failed to recognise is that this content is not ‘free’ and soon many publishers will not be able to keep up with demand. Web development firm 10up predicts that mobile ad blockers could deprive publishers of between 3% and 11% of their ad revenue within the next eight months. Reportedly CNET, The Washington Post, and Hulu have already started to withold content from users with ad blockers turned on.

What can we do?

What we in the digital advertising industry need to do is to address the motive behind this ad blocking craze. Why are people feeling the need to download ad blockers? Yup, you got it, ads are annoying. Unfortunately, this is the general consensus with online advertising: it’s irritating!! Often interrupting our browsing experience, popping up, obscuring content we are trying to read... However, we know that this is not how it has to be! For us here at Periscopix, our main focus is to display the right message. Good advertising should fit seamlessly with the content on the page, almost indistinguishable, certainly not annoying. So here are just a few things that we can do as programmatic account managers to ensure that we are building positive branding and not aggravating users.

- Ensure ‘polite loading’ on all creatives – it is the worst thing knowing that it is ads that are slowing down your page loading screen. Patience is a virtue and one that isn’t common to most. Slow pages caused by large ad creative is a sure way to encourage people to download ad blockers. Below we can see that using ad blockers significantly decreases page load time on mobile (here, showing before and after page load time when using the Crystal ad blocker on iPhone).

- Optimise, optimise and optimise a little more. Stop serving impressions to users who just aren’t interested.

- Frequency Cap – there is no need to serve a user 5 impressions on a page. You’re just being silly now.

- Don’t use pop out ads – these are intrusive and are the main culprits when it comes to obscuring content and annoying users.

- User Initiated formats – video advertising is a powerful tool especially when it comes to branding. Use clever formats like the ‘in-read’ format offered by, a user initiated video that expands without obscuring content on the page. Clever huh?!

- Select websites that are likely to have been ‘whitelisted’ – these are websites people are happy to view ads on, perhaps because they recognise that they should support the publishers of the content they like to read.

- More In-App Advertising – Most ad blockers are programmed to work on browsers rather than in apps. Capture users on mobile by serving more in-app ads.

All in all it certainly isn’t the end of the world. We have all been subjected to good advertising in some form, whether it’s an offer that is just calling your name or a service you never knew existed, advertising can work in our favour. It is important for advertisers to recognise user experience is the driving force behind ad blocking. Improved user experience will lessen the growth in ad blocking. In fact, the eternal optimist in me considers ad blocking a positive move. An initiative that is pushing the industry to develop better advertising. The IAB has taken the first step by introducing alternative advertising standards dubbed L.E.A.N (Light, Encrypted, Ad Choice Supported and Non-Invasive).

Its time to see how lean we can be.

To view this blog written by Lauren Wainwright on Periscopix's website, please click here.

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