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How to beat Adblock in 2017

Adblock may not be the topic which really gets you going, but stick with it - it’s only going to increase in significance to digital marketers, and the internet content-creating ecosystem as a whole.

In order for the digital marketing industry to find an adequate workaround the ever-growing ‘blocked web’, it must first be acknowledged that Adblock is a symptom of a larger problem facing digital marketers today; the level of control the digital consumer has on how they engage with their chosen content is unprecedented.  

Internet culture continues to frustrate the marketing industry; the secret formula for making a viral sensation remains elusive, and advertiser’s attempts to stay relevant in this high-turnover environment have often ended in cringe-inducing attempts to connect to an unpredictable, often contradictory mess of tastes and fads that make up internet culture.


Marketing departments moving into the digital world continue to grapple with a medium that is thoroughly alien to those who would have cut their teeth in the more clearly formatted world of TV advertising, despite the superficial similarities.

                                                                                                                                                 

What is coming to light only most recently is that television advertising can’t just cut ‘n’ paste its way to online success. As David Chavern, CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, commented on the 2016 Mobile Adblock report published by PageFair; ‘The public is not inherently hostile to advertising. […] What people hate are bad ads. Digital advertising is still too derivative of print and TV advertising. We have no ad vocabulary that is optimised to the digital environment experience.’

This has been proven not only by the shortcomings of traditional advertising, but also by the relative success of digital marketing campaigns that, through their very nature, could not exist anywhere else. Chatbot advertising campaigns by brands as diverse as Sephora, Bank of America, and Pizza Hut have proven the merit of interactive digital marketing campaigns, tapping into the app-arcade culture which is now a standard of the smartphone user experience.

A relatively recent development in the fight against Adblock is the personal appeal; upon loading a page, a pop-up appeals directly to the viewer’s sympathies and requests they disable their Adblocking plug-in in order to support the content of the site they are visiting. These vary in what they ask of the user, from those which simply remind you of the option to turn off, to those which deny you access unless you disable the plugin.

Perhaps as a consequence of Adblock’s growing prevalence across internet users, some content creators have opted to ditch ad revenue streams entirely, opting instead for crowdfunding through services offered by the likes of Patreon, which allow supporters of a creative – be it a YouTuber, blogger, or independent journalist – to give either one-off or recurring donations. In return, supporters get access to exclusive content, as well as being endowed with the sense of being that bit more connected. However, this is a solution for publishers, not for advertisers.

The alarm caused by the evidence that adblocking is on the rise – especially on the smartphone market, which marketers are keenest to break into – has led many to believe that native advertising is the way to go. This was the conclusion drawn by Chris Llewellyn, CEO of the International Federation of Periodical Publishers when he commented on the PageFair report; ‘Blocking the Adblockers at the point of engagement with websites is an option in the short run, but in the long run the solution probably lies in advertising that moves away from clutter, from CPM-based selling, to premium solutions.’ Both Llewellyn and Chavern acknowledge that Adblock is a monster of their own making, as UX was sacrificed in favour of cluttered pages where a click anywhere on the page would end with the user being bombarded with pop-ups.

As it stands, it’s a question of who blinks first on the issue of Adblock. With ad revenue being the lifeline that it is for so many online content creators and publishers, it is unlikely that the complete ad blackout offered by the likes of Adblock Pro will survive in their current form. The industry consensus after a couple of years of growing anxiety over Adblocking is innovation rather than retrenchment; the lack of uniformity online must push the industry to seek equally diverse solutions on a case-by-case basis.

 

 

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