Two things every marketer knows about display ads: 1) everyone hates them and 2) everyone knows everyone hates them.
We’ve all heard the same ridiculous statistics over and over again — you’re 475x more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a display ad and 33% of internet users find display ads completely intolerable — and yet, things aren’t changing.
For the first time ever, digital display ad spending will overtake search ad spending in 2016. Also for the first time ever? The number of desktop users with ad-blocking software will surpass 200 million.
What are Ad-Blockers?
Ad-blockers are programs that prevent ads from loading up on sites — like that big car ad pop-up you immediately “x” out of when you’re reading an article. They look for tags that are used in display and paid search and completely block that element from showing up. They are usually browser extensions that are available on Chrome, Firefox, and even through Apple’s own interface on both desktop and mobile Safari (yes, even mobile).
How Ad-Blockers Affect the Digital Marketing Industry
Both advertisers and publishers lose out when a user downloads an ad-blocker. Most of a publisher’s revenue comes from advertising, and an ad-blocker blocks a total $20.3 billion dollars in revenue.
Unfortunately for both advertisers and publishers, the adoption of ad-blocking software continues to grow at a rapid pace. No one can force a user to stop using an ad-blocker (though many have tried). But what publishers and advertisers can do instead is find unique ways or different channels to gain back that lost revenue.
How Publishers and Advertisers Fight Back
1. Make it a Joke
Have you ever tried to read Time.com with an ad-blocker installed? They show you what happens when they can’t get any ad revenue from a user i.e. the site completely breaks. Your move, Ad-blockers.
2. Ban You From Their Content
Some publishers just won’t allow it. Major publisher, Forbes.com, completely blocks any ad-blocking user from reading their site.
3. Get You to Subscribe
One way a publisher can counteract its loss in advertising revenue is providing a subscription option. Slate offers a friendly message to those with ad-blockers:
4. The Tried-and-True: Rank in Google
Rather than using resources to fight the ad-blocker, invest more in a channel that works: building quality content and optimizing it to the top of Google.
For your mobile users, invest in AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) — AMP HTML brings your content to the top of the page and creates a faster, better user experience (anywhere from 15% to 85% faster than a non-AMP page).
5. If You Build a Community, They Will Come
Though social networks continually change the way they distribute content to their users, one thing remains true: building a loyal community is the most effective way to reach your readers on social media (and it now affects your SEO rankings!). The fans and followers of your networks will still receive organic updates — with or without ad-blockers.
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6. Retarget Your Campaigns to Your Social Community
With a bleak 0.09% click-through rate on display ads, something’s gotta change — try retargeting your already created marketing campaigns to other channels (Facebook, Twitter). That way, advertisers can insure that their ads are served to users that have already shown interest in their brand (i.e. much more likely to convert down the funnel).
7. “Sponsored Posts”
Take it from Buzzfeed: if you can’t fight the ads… make ’em your own (said some marketer out there, probably). Building ads that look like your own content can prevent users from searching for ways to block them.
Note: some ad-blockers are sophisticated enough to even block Buzzfeed’s impressively invisible sponsored content ads.
Moving To a Cleaner Web
We all need to remember: the number one reason a user uses an ad-blocker is customer experience. Ad-blockers aren’t going away — publishers, advertisers, and digital marketers will have to find other creative ways to reach their audience.
Reaching your audience is reaching your audience — no matter how. Cater to your audience with a more creative approach or focus on other channels that bring more ROI.