Ad-blocking – Our Viewpoint
This article was written by Harry Robinson, VP of Product Marketing at Celtra
This week marks the release of iOS 9.0; the first iOS version to support Safari’s content blocking extension. What a frenzy it seems to have caused; not a day goes by where I am not asked what this means for Celtra. Well, the short story is that Celtra ads do not get requested when ads are blocked so clients will not incur any Celtra costs. More significantly, we hope it means a future with faster loading pages, leaner ad tech and better quality advertising, presented in a polite and complimentary manner.
Ad-blocking is not a new concept; desktops have had ad-blocking apps for a couple of years now. Similarly with TV's, users have been able to skip through ads on recorded DVR programs for almost a decade yet US TV ad revenue continues to grow above inflation (Forrester Research Digital Marketing Forecast, 2014-2019).
We love experiencing great advertising. When I think of the feeling I get when I see an original TV commercial, or read fantastic copywriting in a print ad, it reminds me why I love working in this industry. Unfortunately that joy turns into exacerbated disappointment and frustration when I see poor, annoying and inconsiderate advertising. Digital advertising, above other mediums, suffers most from mediocre advertising execution.
There is a raft of reasons for this, but fundamentally whatever the reasons are, ad-blocking is just a response from consumers that they are exhausted of waiting for content to load because advertising is clogging the pipes.
As digital consumers, we continuously want to have our cake and eat it too. We’ve grown accustomed to free content online, often neglecting to remember that producing high-quality authentic content costs money. But, if we’re not willing to pay for content then how do we expect publishers and content producers to fund this? Advertising is a pretty good – and successful – solution. I don’t mind brands having to pay for a small slice of my attention (or in most online cases, just a slim chance at getting my attention) in order to cover the publisher’s cost of the news articles, video content or music which I consume. In fact, I would appreciate it much more if I was presented with equally high quality advertising, thoughtful to my current environment, complimentary of my current browsing behavior (which has become increasingly short and fast) and receptive to my interests and surroundings.
Publishers are facing the biggest challenge with ad blocking. At the end of the day, forcing users to see adverts isn’t solving the problem, neither is showing them adverts in the first place. The problem at hand is fighting the consequences of a legacy of annoying pop-up banners, heavy ad technology, ads holding up page content and security vulnerabilities compromising users. To fix this problem, publishers need to look after their viewers by working closely with their ad tech providers to ensure high quality advertising. Publishers should be adopting the latest IAB standards to protect users, finding a balance between obtaining ad revenue and giving users’ quality content, selecting the right ad technology and presenting relevant advertising in a polite and complimentary way. If your content requires scrolling, don’t introduce ads that need tapping or clicking. If your content is short, don’t combine it with advertising of the same length. Reconsider if you need ten retargeting cookies, five audience pixels and three ad serving tags on every page. Challenge your ad technology partners to better their infrastructure.
I think it’s interesting that ad-blocking, which is for now only possible if you download a third party app, is one of the buzzed about topics within digital advertising. Mobile advertising is an advertising medium that is already more relevant, more personalized and more engaging than most other advertising mediums.
This suggests to me that ad creativity is not the driving force behind ad-blocking, but rather the bloated technology and (sometimes exaggerated) ad monetization strategies that are frustrating users to turn to a dire ad-blocking fix.
The solution? Better quality advertising executions powered by better quality advertising technology.