Are Industry Corrections Reducing the Impact of Ad Blocking?

As consumers continue to view many online ads as annoying and intrusive, ad blocking is expected to remain a thorn in marketers’ sides through 2017.

This year, some 86.6 million Americans are slated to use ad blockers at least monthly, a 24 percent jump over 2016, Emarketer reports. But another recent report argues such growth has mostly plateaued and will stop growing completely by 2025, remaining in use by only 7 percent of the online population. Others predict ad blocking will ebb in the U.S. this year, in a pattern following slight reductions in Germany, England and Canada in 2016.

Some say consumers are beginning to respond favorably to the better native advertising and micro-targeting already taking place as a countermeasure. In a U.S. survey of online browsers last year, for example, 68 percent of respondents noted they don’t mind seeing website ads “as long as they’re not annoying.” Nielsen recently found internet users are 21 percent more likely to purchase from brands reaching them via native ads. And a global study by Reuters last year determined younger people are more prepared than other demographics to accept advertising in exchange for free news.

“For the time being at least, beleaguered publishers finally have some glimmers of hope,” writes Patrick Kulp on Mashable.com.

The industry continues to seek answers against a problem Juniper Research says could cost more than $27 billion annually starting in 2020.

What more can marketers expect this year? Various analysts predict the following:

  • Marketers will promote better loyalty by better compliance to guidelines and a stronger focus on consumer experience. “After some trying times, 2017 is set to be the turning point in our battle against ad blockers,” predicts Rob Garber of Undertone in a recent Exchangewire. “Initiatives such as LEAN and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project have put the user experience back in the foreground.”
  • User-generated content and short-form native-format videos will both see more prominent use. “Consumers are speaking a new visual language that values peer endorsement and authenticity,” reports Jose de Cabo of Olapic on Exchangewire. “This is demonstrated by heightened receptivity to images that are created by other consumers and are more relatable than traditional forms of advertising.”
  • With more limited access to consumer data coming with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, marketers must be more creative in devising meaningful ads. To foster customer trust, they must also demonstrate they’re using such information to produce ads that offer value to customers.
  • Instant messaging and chatbots will be employed more broadly to improve efficiency and customer experience.
  • Programmatic trading will become more transparent throughout the conversion path as better tools allow more comprehensive views. As a result, buyers will seek better proof of ROI. “Advertisers will no longer turn a blind eye to the problem of how fraud affects attribution modeling,” predicts Julie Smith on Exchangewire. “There will be increased pressure to evaluate the true conversion path and ensure the end KPI was achieved based on real data.”
  • Advertisers will have a wider choice of pre-qualified vendors they can use to address ad fraud. Some believe better ad viewability will reduce wasteful spending. “The only way to solve for fraud is to get publishers their fair rates by bringing brands closer to the publishers through the proper technology stacks,” predicts Charles Cantu of Huddled Masses. Ric Elert of Conversan forecasts a stronger industry backlash. “Brand marketers will begin to measure incrementally, which will help them catch fraud early in the process and root it out before it can have a major business impact,” he says.

The real-life effects remain to be seen.

“Should they continue to trend in the same direction … stats seem to suggest that while ad blockers will probably always be popular among certain circles, the craze may never reach the crisis proportions many in the industry feared,” concludes Kulp.

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