You have a finely tuned online ad campaign. You’ve made the ad groups, identified your broad, phrase, and exact keywords, dialed in your A/B ads for each group, and hyper-targeted your audience by geography and demographics. Now you are ready for the masses to see your brand on every website that participates in the Google Display Network (GDN).
It’s a win-win. You get to promote your brand to a very targeted audience on millions of tiny online billboards, and the companies providing those tiny billboards receive revenue to generate the free content needed to keep their viewers coming back. A perfect symbiotic relationship.
The problem is, potentially 45 million people in the United States are not going to see your ads, no matter what you’ve done, and that number is only going to grow unless the advertiser, publisher, and the end-user find common ground.
Ad-blocking software is nothing new to the Internet (think pop-up blockers of the 90s), however, the ability to target a very specific segment has drawn concern from those who feel ‘Big Brother’ is a little too close for comfort. In our advertising efforts to get online engagement, we have felt that the loudest, biggest, and most visually intrusive advertisements would garner the best engagement. In an effort for the companies selling real estate on their websites to generate the most revenue, we have smeared our sites with screen-hijacking pop-ups, startling autoplay video, and data-driven personalized ads.
The result is a corrosion of the online user experience as they find themselves fighting the intruding army of advertisements. The online consumer needed to find some defense from this barrage of unwanted solicitation, and during the past few years they have armed themselves with ad-blocking software to repel this advance.
We’ve become our own worst enemy in the goal for engagement.
However, this dilemma doesn’t affect all of us equally. The good news is, if you are operating a real estate, health, or dating website which supplies ad space using the GDN, your visitors are much more likely to see ads because it’s highly unlikely they have ad blocking software installed. If you are a gaming, social network, technology, or sporting website, there is a good chance that you aren’t getting every impression that you could, which results in unhappy buyers and less traffic to your website.
What causes these differences? Users who are young, tech-savvy, and usually male, and their use of ad-blocking software.
Isn’t it obvious? Millennials are experts at ignoring you. If that is your target audience, you have to take extra consideration in how you’ll reach them if your main online strategy is display advertisements. Remember, today’s younger generations want two things when they log on: information and entertainment.
It gets worst. The largest demographic of mobile browsing is ages 18-34. Safari represents 52 percent of the mobile browser market and 14 percent of total web browsing. And this is the first year that ad-blocking apps can be installed on the most popular mobile browser. You can start to see the potential loss in online ad revenue and exposure in the coming years. It is time to start developing strategies to offset that loss.
Now, it isn’t all doom and gloom! On the whole, those who use ad-blocking software, such as the most popular Adblock Plus developed by Eyeo, represent just 16 percent of the entire online population in the United States. What is concerning—that number is up 48 percent YoY and is expected to double again through 2016. This dramatic increase in adoption is expected to result in a loss of ad revenue to the tune of more than $20 billion in the United States this year. (2015 PageFair/Adobe Report)
The health of the display advertisement industry and the end-user experience is at a crossroad. If companies maintain the status quo and don’t look to adopt new ways to engage their audience, the impressions they can garner will continue to dissolve. On the other hand, if the end-user continues to shield themselves from advertisements, there will be no money to generate the free content they expect to consume. It’s a battle where nothing good will result if we can’t find that common ground. We as advertisers and marketers need to focus on developing more appealing, engaging and relevant content. The future of a healthy Internet depends on it.
Update: With mobile browsing continuing to grow, look at Pagefair / Priori Data latest report for ad blocking usage with mobile.