CONSUMERS’ USE OF AD BLOCKING TECHNOLOGY IS ON THE RISE, WHICH COULD SPELL TROUBLE FOR BOTH ONLINE PUBLISHERS AND ADVERTISERS. JAYSON DUBIN, CEO AT PLAYWIRE SHARES TACTICS BRANDS CAN TAKE TO ACCELERATE THEIR REACH BEYOND AD BLOCKERS
Ad blocking is on the rise. Eleven percent of internet users globally downloaded ad blockers last year, representing a staggering 30 percent annual increase. Perhaps more troubling for brands is that among global users, two out of three U.S. Millennials, a group that represents more than $600 billion in annual spending power, use an ad blocker on a desktop or mobile device.
When we look at why this is, the reason is not surprising: people feel bombarded by intrusive, disruptive, and irrelevant online advertisements. But there is a bright spot. A large majority of online users (83%) believe that not all ads are bad, and instead of opting to block all ads, they would prefer the option to filter out ads that are offensive or not relevant to them.
We also know that when users do click through an online ad, it’s most often because the ad interested them in the moment; they need new sneakers and a Nike ad happened to be served.
By bringing together what we know makes users click (relevancy, timeliness) and what we know makes users block (intrusive, disruptive), brands can begin to formulate better ways to accelerate their reach beyond ad blockers. At a high level, viewers will be more receptive to advertising if brands–and publishers–invest in creating seamless ad experiences that fit naturally within a viewer’s online experience. What does this look like in practice? We’ve outlined three methods here.
Eighty-four percent of all smartphone time is spent in-app, making engagement here critical for brands, and a recent study conducted by IHS and commissioned by Facebook Audience Network suggests that third-party in-app native ads will account for $8.9 billion by 2020, growing at an annual rate of 70.7%. Compared to other formats, native ads tend to produce higher levels of engagement, shares, and up to 3x user retention.
Native ads are a natural fit for in-app, as they can be tailored to align naturally within the content of the app. When brand advertisements actually become a part of the app, they become immediately relevant to a user. Similarly, in-app advertising allows brands to very specifically target users, ensuring that ads served are relevant.
Remember, in-app doesn’t just mean mobile. A number of users engage within apps via desktop as well, providing an opportunity for brands to experiment with new creative and ad formats.
Online gamers tend to be more accepting of advertisements served in-game because they are presented fluidly, as part of gameplay. Generally speaking, if a game is free users are more accepting of advertising, but it needs to uphold the tenets of good advertising: non-intrusive and seamlessly sewn into the game experience. For example, if watching an ad gives a user free “cash” in EA’s Madden Mobile, the user is incentivized to watch an ad to completion. Another creative approach to in-game advertising is creating a game within a game; if the ad is a mini-game, it is less likely to be viewed as intrusive or disruptive.
Here we are talking about the “third-screen” experience, when retailers have their own programming networks in-store. Typically, this type of out of home advertising feels very native and seamless because it’s hyper-relevant to the consumer already in the store shopping. Think about it, if CPG brands are advertising in Target’s in-store programming, it’s likely that those ads will drive sales as shoppers are already shopping for their products. Similarly, if video game brands are advertising on GameStop’s TV network, those ads will reach users who are already interested in gaming.
For brands to combat ad blockers and reach their target audiences, it really comes down to serving relevant ads in a manner that fits with the medium. That means advertisements that don’t disrupt or intrude on user experience, and ideally, enhance audiences’ brand perception. As the industry as a whole works toward creating better brand advertising experiences, in-app, in-game, and in-store advertising all represent avenues brands can take to accelerate their reach beyond ad blockers.