Over the last few weeks it has been impossible to read any trade publications without encountering an article on ad blockers. With the introduction of iOS 9 last month, mobile ad blocking risks rising, as users receive the opportunity to opt out of advertising.
Rather than descend into a blind panic about ad blockers and prophesying the end of the ad funded model, advertisers, publishers and media owners need to take the trend at face value - as a rather unpleasant lump of customer feedback.
A large proportion of users are clearly fed up with endlessly being targeted with dozens of invasive, irrelevant adverts – and the more tech savvy among them are downloading apps to block them.
Just as a brand will have to rebuild trust and loyalty after a scandal, the advertising industry as a whole must take stock and rectify areas where we haven’t always got it right.
In other words, it’s time to up our game.
Less has to be more. Publishers should choose to host fewer formats which deliver higher effective cost per thousand impressions rather than featuring dozens of ad units on a page. On the flip side, advertisers should narrow down their use of ad formats, choosing mediums which are high impact and engaging.
Using video is an excellent way for both publishers and advertisers to achieve these goals. Mobile video ads typically deliver higher revenues while the richness of video as a format means it is highly effective at transmitting brand messages. Seeing one format which is inherently more engaging will be more user friendly than several bad formats, keeping users clear of ad blockers.
But it’s possible to go one step further - by using Artificial Intelligence.
AI is the future of the industry, making it possible to identify which users are the most likely to engage with a video ad, at what time, in which environment. By only targeting users who are likely to engage, advertisers are far less likely to drive their audience to download ad blockers.
It is also vital to keep the user experience front of mind. As media professionals we often forget how we feel about advertising from a user point of view. Can we honestly say we’re not annoyed by untargeted advertising or tiny banners which are impossible to close without clicking through to the landing page? My gut tells me no.
It is vital that mobile ad formats are both built and bought with the user in mind. Frequency caps are an absolute must, as is the possibility to skip. Native video ad formats, which seamlessly integrate with the user experience are a great option, they are non-intrusive and allow the user to choose whether or not to view the advert. By using formats which genuinely allow user engagement it will be easy to bring audiences back on board.
It might not seem to be the case on first examination – but the ad blocking trend really is a blessing in disguise.
It’s challenging those of us working in the industry to raise the bar, and by doing so we’ll be able to deliver more engaging, user friendly advertising experiences which audiences genuinely enjoy.