As if advertisers didn’t have enough hurdles to deal with – from the “Flash Apocalypse,” to the lack of industry consensus on ad view ability, fraud issues, header bidding and more. While we’re at it, let’s add another to the ever-growing list: Ad blocking.

Opted into by consumers, ad blocking is enabled by software that removes ads and content from a page. It started in Europe and has slowly made its way to the United States. In 2014, a Comscore and Sourcepoint study showed that 1 in 10 ads were blocked in the US and the UK, while in Germany and France; it’s as high as 1 in 4.



In their recent Ad Blocking Report, Adobe and Page Fair mentioned that block usage in the United States resulted in an estimated $5.8B in blocked revenue during 2014; it is expected to cost $10.7B in 2015 and $20.3B in 2016. Globally, the value is supposed to hit $41.4B by 2016. Needless to say, this growing trend is raising a lot of questions and concerns within the advertising community, especially as it’s costing publishers billions.

Advertisers may not have to worry about losing investments through ad blocking, especially since we don’t have to pay for un-served impressions. However, this new software is beginning to shrink our scale and limit our ability to achieve the maximum reach.

Why is this important now?  

One could say that consumers have always hated ads. Why is this something advertisers can no longer ignore? Well, arguably, the hoopla surrounding ad blocking is a direct result of poor targeting and the resulting consumer frustration. After all, who wants to see an ad that either doesn’t resonate with them or is completely out of context when compared to the content they’re consuming?  For example, a consumer may not mind being served a discount on makeup while they’re watching a video about this season’s latest tips. However, advertisers who allow spend efficiency to take precedence over audience experience can’t be surprised when consumers want to block their ads.

As IAB’s SVP of Technology and Ad Operations, Scott Cunningham admitted, ” We messed up and lost track of the user experience.”

What’s next?  

If we’re learning anything from ad blocking, it’s that mass advertising and poor audience targeting has hurt our industry. Too often, the intersection between audience targeting and creative messaging is overlooked.  According to Megan Porter, Envisionit’s Director of Digital, you can draw parallels between this forced change and what we’ve seen across other digital channels. “This situation reminds me of what SEO’s have faced for years and the shift toward quality content. Ultimately, if you’re considering the motivations of your clients’ audience and putting them at the forefront of your marketing efforts, you’re setting yourself up for success.”

As you can see, ad blocking is signaling an inevitable change that will impact the advertising industry. Advertisers must start shifting the focus of their tactics to meet the consumers exceeding demands for relevance.



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