I have to start this blog with a confession: I use ad blockers. Working in digital marketing means you’re online a lot. Adding an ad blocking extension to the web browser I use reduces web page size significantly – in some cases, by more than a third – which means pages load faster and I can get more work done. The same is true when I’m working from my smartphone: ad blockers enable a faster, more robust browsing experience. It’s much easier to read articles, enjoy social media and watch videos when ads aren’t interrupting every few seconds.
I’m hardly alone. Industry reports that more than half of all Millennials use some form of ad blocking software. Men are more likely to use ad blocking than women. The more tech-savvy you are, the more likely it is you’ve got ad blocking installed: Forbes recently reported that about 13% of their readers use ad blocking, while over at Ars Technica, the number approaches 40%.
Ad blockers are indeed awesome – but they clearly have a downside too. Online publishers, including the sites your customers go to for their favorite content, depend on advertising revenue to stay in business. And when I say depend, I mean that ads are 85% of their revenue stream. Attempts to switch to subscription based revenue models for digital publishing have largely failed; even papers like The New York Times report results have been anemic at best. Without ad revenue to support popular platforms, business owners will foreseeably see a future where there are far fewer places to advertise.
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Additionally, ad blockers mean that at least some of the energy and effort business owners put into digital advertising is being wasted. Ad blockers affect pay per click and display advertising, Google AdWords, Bing advertising, and more. Some ad blocking platforms offer business owners the chance to be whitelisted, which means you pay an additional premium for your ad to be allowed past the ad blocker’s protection.
The situation is evolving. Marketers are being forced into some painful self-examinations: if ads weren’t so obnoxious and intrusive, people wouldn’t go to such extensive lengths to block them. Ads that mirror a site’s feel and aesthetic garner more positive regard from the public than pop ups and auto-play video. Native advertising and organic search marketing will become increasingly important in an environment where the typical ad just can’t get through – something to think about as you plan your next marketing campaign!