A few weeks ago I finally took the plunge and downloaded an ad blocker. It turns out I am not alone in my exasperation over the growing number of online adverts I’m forced to see. What’s going on?
By 2017 33% of us will use ad blocker tech
Some reports say a third of internet users will be blocking online ads by 2017. Right now 420 million people use ad blockers, and their adoption has almost doubled over the past year. Somewhere between 16% and 25% of the US population already use them.
A report by Optimal says ad blocking will cost the USA $12 billion in ad revenue by 2020. Juniper Research says it could cost digital publishers more than $27 billion by 2020. Some marketers are calling it the ‘adblockalypse’. As you can imagine the situation has kicked off panic in digital marketing circles.
Poorly-thought out reactions from digital marketers
Some digital marketers are trying to find ways around ad blocking tech by ‘combating’ it. Some advertisers and agencies are trying to dream up ways to persuade people not to use blockers. Others are hell bent on denying there’s a problem in the first place, convinced the trend doesn’t matter because ad blockers are ‘inaccurate’. But it doesn’t seem like anyone is trying to empathise with the millions of ordinary people who choose to block adverts, trying to understand why they block them. It seems crazy when a target audience’s desires are supposed to sit at the heart of every good marketing campaign.
Time to take the issue seriously
Millions of us neither enjoy nor appreciate the constant stream of adverts we’re forced to negotiate in our everyday digital lives. It’s about time someone took a user perspective instead of jamming their marketing hats on ever-tighter, sticking metaphorical fingers in their ears and pretending everything is OK.
What is intelligent marketing?
Intelligent marketing involves finding out what people want and giving it to them, not forcing things on people without establishing whether or not it’s what they want. When will the digital marketing industry analyse why so many users are blocking ads online? The answers – provided the user group is big enough for the results to be statistically meaningful – will help marketers deliver ads that people actually don’t mind seeing, maybe even enjoy.
Since blocking ads, I’ve come across three websites I couldn’t access because of the blocking software I use. In each case a message popped up asking me to un-block ads from the site in order to carry on. I decided to find the information I needed elsewhere instead. That’s just me, but I doubt I’m alone.
It’s time digital marketers did things better
Users are given little or no choice about the online ads served up to us. Businesses collect our personal and behavioural data without asking permission. They don’t tell us what they use our data for and they never say ‘thank you’. Tracking software follows us around the web and generates spam email based on our activities. The data these people steal from us informs the search results we see. You look for something online one day and lo and behold, the next day an ad for it appears in your Facebook account. No wonder people are rebelling.
Come on marketers. Do the decent thing. Make an effort to find out why people don’t want to see your ads, and use the information to do a better job. That’s what good marketing is all about.