Ad blocking. Consumers love it, but publishers and advertisers can’t afford it. Ad blocking keeps carefully crafted messages from reaching prospects and customers, and it’s becoming an obstacle for AdTech.
In the last 12 months, ad blocking grew by 41 percent, according to PageFair’s August 2015 Ad Blocking Report. It cost publishers nearly $22 billion in 2015, and it grew by 48 percent in the U.S. alone.
Why is there so much ad blocking? After all, consumers put up with television advertising for years. Ah, but they had no choice — and once they had one, they avoided ads vigorously. New technologies (ad-free experience for a price, content that only includes one ad at the beginning or end) have allowed television’s Internet equivalent to keep better track of the user experience.
But online, it’s been a different story.
How Ad Blocking is Affecting AdTech
In the scramble to capture eyeballs on the screen, advertisers made online ads bigger, more eye-grabbing, more demanding of the user’s attention — and of their device’s processing power. Ads were tolerable as long as they were only annoying. But once they began to cause slow load speeds, compromised processing, and drain batteries, the attempt to block ads was inevitable.
In the end, although AdTech can defeat ad-blocking technology, it becomes a Pyrrhic victory. By winning the battle — which is successfully providing advertisers the tools to serving ads to users who have made significant efforts to avoid them — AdTech can lose the war by permanently alienating those users.
Responding With LEAN
Understanding this is a no-win proposition, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) came up with a solution to the problem: LEAN ads. LEAN stands for Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ads. The IAB has proposed that the advertising industry build technical standards for ads that meet these four criteria. The proposed standards wouldn’t replace traditional advertising standards, but would give the AdTech industry the ability to provide advertisers with new options.
Ads produced under these new standards would be lighter and encrypted so that privacy and processing demands are both addressed. They would support the user’s ability to choose which ads they see, and avoid attention-getting devices like flashing, crawling, and other attempts to force the user to view the ad.
How Can AdTech Respond?
The opportunity lies in building products that comply with the standards even before they’re written. For example, in announcing the push for new standards, Scott Cunningham, IAB’s Senior Vice President of Technology and Ad Operations, said that, “…we must also address frequency capping on retargeting in AdTech and make sure a user is targeted appropriately before, but never AFTER they make a purchase.” AdTech providers must be aware of this.That means providing products that help advertisers target prospects appropriately before, but not after they buy something.
Products that meet other principles within the LEAN Ads Program will also be popular. Platforms that avoid preloading ads and control the volume of ads per page will help their users comply with the Non-invasive and the Light principles.
At Thumbtack Technology, we see firsthand the affects that ad blocking has on the AdTech industry. With that being said, we are working diligently to address these issues by implementing LEAN ads program standards into the products that we are building for our customers.