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October 7, 2015
The Answer to Ad-Blockers?
Is anyone really surprised that people like ad-blockers?

Did anyone really believe that consumers are eager to have their digital experiences interrupted or sidetracked by endless display ads, pop-ups, pre-rolls, or retargeting? We seem to have forgotten that the majority of Americas tolerate rather than relish advertising.

A 2015 report by PageFair and Adobe says that 16 percent of the U.S. online population blocks ads, an increase of 48 percent in the past year. It estimates that blocked ads will cost $10.7 billion in lost ad revenue this year.

Evidently consumers have quickly recalculated the content-for-annoyance trade-off. Now that new and improved technology can enable blocking on multiple platforms, is it any wonder that Millennials and others have embraced it? What’s more persuasive; consumers’ preferences to skip ads or publishers’ inalienable right to bombard us with commercial messages in exchange for content? There is a precedent for limiting commercial access to audiences in the do-not-call and do-not-mail options already available to consumers.

And while publishers and the IAB lament ad-blocking as “theft” or bemoan the reduced access to desirable audiences, the burden is on brands and their agencies to tell us something we don’t know, something interesting, or something immediately useful, personal, or relevant. Otherwise there’s a decreasing valuation of ad-supported content leading to no appetite for endless ads.

When you combine ad-blocking at a future scale with existing skepticism about click fraud, brands have to rethink their commitment to digital display advertising. Even cheaply, programmatically purchased inventory has to reach a critical mass of genuine verified, real target customers. If publishers can’t guarantee this; they’re out of business.

The bottom line is that publishers have to compete with ad-blockers for customer attention. If ad-supported content is deemed useful and valuable, the number of people blocking ads will level off at marginal levels. On the other hand, if the content isn’t worth the interruption, massive numbers of Americans will block ads.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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