Is ad blocking the next Y2K?

September 25, 2015Uncategorized

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, the launch of iOS 9, which boasts the ability to install ad-blocking apps, has been the talk of the industry.

Leanne Brinkies, Global Head of Native Advertising

Leanne Brinkies, Global Head of Native Advertising

Is this all talk about nothing? Will we wake up tomorrow and see nothing has changed? Or will this shake up the current online landscape?

I thought it was worth doing a review of the current situation through anative advertising lens’ and look into any ramifications we may see moving forward.

The power of native

Firstly, I just want to say that I truly believe native sits as a key solution for all parties in this debate – the consumer (most importantly), as well as brands and publishers.

The reason being is that the rise of ad blockers has largely occurred due to a consumer backlash against annoying and obtrusive ads. We’ve all seen them – they flash, they pop up, they shout at us. And they often crowd the website or page you are trying to read.

An Acceptable Ads Manifesto has even been created with the aim to make the internet a better place for everyone.

Right now, the US ad-blocking rate is around nine to 10 per cent, with an upward trend that is concerning even for native formats, as currently no native (or advertising) solution is immune to ad blocking. This is due to ad blockers working to either completely block domains or CSS objects that load on a page.

Short story: if you’re using technology to serve ad placements, it’s likely these ad blockers will be effective. And if you’re an advertiser, you need this technology in order to scale and measure your activity.

As a consumer, ad blocking isn’t all it’s cracked up be either, especially when it restricts the delivery of content. Interestingly, the creator of the Peace app noted this week that ad blockers were hurting ad-supported content sites and removed his app from sale.

What’s the solution?

An arms race on changes to technology is probably not the answer – as soon as new tech is built to overcome the ad blockers, I have no doubt this will be gazumped in a very short space of time.

In the short term, native solutions will look to scan for ad blockers, identify their presence and use this data to deliver optimised content recommendations. They will also partner with industry players to whitelist native formats by meeting user-experience guidelines.

Here’s a video interview with the CEO of Outbrain, speaking just last week at Dmexco about his company’s view on ad blockers.

Advertisers will also not be penalised short-term as the majority of native formats are bought on either a vCPM (viewable CPM) or CPC model. This means that brands will never pay for an ad that has been blocked – they are only charged for ads that are 100 per cent viewable or have been clicked on. Long-term, there may be some impact with reduction in scale (and therefore reach) and potentially increases in pricing as supply reduces.

Ultimately, however, improving user experience is going to be the key.

There’s no question that certain areas of the internet need to be cleaned up, and this is where I believe native advertising becomes the solution.

Native formats and solutions are changing the status quo of advertising, from intrusive and unwanted ads to a world where consumers can read engaging native content at the same time as publishers can monetise these formats with meaningful, quality content that fits in naturally with their site.

If we can improve the quality of advertising through native, we can ensure consumers have a good user experience – removing the need for ad blockers. This will enable the industry to continue producing content that is free for users to read, enables brands to reach their audience and ensures online publishers continue to exist and prosper.

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