written by: Li Mei Wah, Venus

Living in this digital-oriented era, we are now completely immersed in the internet and social media universe. With the transformation of the advertisement platforms from traditional media to new media, the prevalence of online advertisement have led to a surge in demand for ads blocking software. Is this a signal of deprive on advertising effectiveness? OR, the industry is doomed to confront decline with the presence of Ads Block software?

Mega trend of Ads Blocking
Ads blocking software is now in a hefty expansion and will continue to increase with the growth of online advertising investment. According to the research carried out by PageFair [1], 615 millions devices worldwide are using ads block actively as of end 2016, with an increase of 125 millions compared to the start of the year. Within which, 62% of the devices are mobile browsers, indicating a drastic surge of 142 millions. The rest of the 38% are desktop browsers, which also sees a steady growth from 216 millions to 236 millions within the year. The Asia-Pacific region commands the highest increase in mobile ad block usage up to 40%. It is quite obvious that ad blocking habits has become a global phenomenon and would continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

Underlying motivations to use Ads Block
The convenience of ads block software deployment is apparently quite detrimental to the digital ecosystem as advertising revenue remains the major source of revenue for online platforms’ developers. For brand marketers to figure out a way to deal with ads blocking in the digital space, it is important to understand the reasons and attitudes of ad block users.

According to GlobalWebIndex [2], around half (50%) of consumers using ad blocking features because they cannot tolerate the overflow of annoying and irrelevant advertisements. The other half would want more spacious screen and/or faster loading time of the website. Research from PageFair[1] also revealed that the most acceptable ad format is the static banner format; and the least desirable ads are those imperative and non-skippable video ads. In addition, most people tend to keep a neutral stance towards native ads which blend in naturally with the page content.

Riding out Ad Blocking
The current common practice adopted by websites to ride out ad blocking is to make disabling of ad blocking a condition to accessing to web content. Latest statistics from Statista[3] shows that 67.7% of the respondents would do so only if web content is really attractive, or else they would find alternative ways to access to the information they need. As a consequence, it is necessary for brand marketers to face the music and find a way to make get through to their target audience through better online advertising strategy.

Find the right Ad Formats: Few consumers would admit that they are totally against advertising. The one important consideration goes back to whether the ad creative delivery is clear and attractive enough, with placement at the right touch-points relevant to target customers. Spotify, as a 100% service made for and use on the digital channel, their ads are clean, clear and sales lead generation focus to reach those who are looking for the a suitable music streaming platform.

Collaborate with ad block players: this may well be an appreciable approach as nowadays a lot of ad block software developers are open to introducing allowance to some selective/acceptable ads. Last but not least, more transparent and traceable programmatic ad placement planning would surely help brand marketers for better targeting, reduce wastage in ad dollars and strengthen the appeal to online users.

After all, it is not about how consumers are repulsive to advertisement, but about how the advertisement is being presented.

[1] The state of the blocked web – 2017 Global Adblock Report
https://pagefair.com/downloads/2017/01/PageFair-2017-Adblock-Report.pdf
[2] The State of MobileAd-Blocking in 2017
http://insight.globalwebindex.net/hubfs/The-State-of-Mobile-Ad-blocking-in-2017.pdf?t=1499265431270
[3] Actions taken when encountering a website that forces users to turn off ad blocking among Goodblock users as of September 2016
https://www.statista.com/statistics/621004/actions-taken-to-websites-require-turn-off-ad-blocker/