In the already difficult battle among marketers and a more and more ad-resisting public, a new enemy has risen: ad blocking software. This software was developed as a browser plugin which effectively hides all kinds of banner ads from websites. In more recent versions, these ad blockers also hide social media ads on Facebook™, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Ad Blockers in Numbers
There are several different versions available for users to choose from, but should marketers worry about these plugins? This time last year, we would say a cautious “no”. But this year, the answer is “yes”, with statistical numbers to prove it. The companies Adobe and PageFair have conducted a piece of research showing the steep rise in the usage of ad blockers from 21 million browsers in 2010 to 181 million in January 2015.
A further reason to worry is that ad blocking software is now available for mobile phones – initially only for the Android platform, but the Apple iOS 9 version also allows ad blocking through a plugin named Crystal. Estimates of revenue losses for marketers caused by ad-blockers vary between the frightening number of $40 billion and the more realistic and moderate $1 billion during the current year.
What Does It Mean for Marketers?
Marketers and business owners who either obtain their revenues from ads displayed on their website, or have built their sales funnel using social media ads are right to worry. Their ads are reaching less and less people by the day, and they have less data on their website visitors or customers, because many users also add anti-tracking software (such as Ghostery or NoScript) together with the ad blockers.
The first response from major websites which obtain a significant part of their revenues from ads was to block the access of people who use ad blockers. Thus, instead of viewing the content, they will see a warning telling them to disable the ad blocking plugin if they want to view the page.
Other marketers have adopted guilt and shaming tactics, displaying a message where the ads would have been, reminding users that ads are their main source of income, allowing them to create and post great content without charging viewers.
What about Social Media Ads?
When it comes to Facebook™ and Twitter ads, there is one simple answer: be an ace at remarketing. Chances are very high that customers who enjoy a good relationship with your business and follow you on the social media will disable their ad blocker for these platforms, exactly because they do not want to miss a special offer from you.
For this reason, you need to continue collecting customer data, but in more creative ways – bypassing ad blockers and anti-tracking software through surveys, satisfaction questionnaires, polls and other such activities.
More Good News
As a result of ad blockers, email marketing has reached higher conversion rates than before. This means that your subscribers are willing to click on a text link or an ad which they receive in the email from a trusted source.
On another positive note, ad blockers do not affect mobile apps (at least not right now). Thus, you should redesign at least a part of your ads, and serve them to your customers while they are using your dedicated app.
And finally, native ads are not blocked in any way. If you write persuasive copy which is easy and interesting to read, and offers a great blend of information and promotion of your products and services, people will most likely read it and respond to your call to action.
Ad blockers are a reality which can no longer be denied. It does not mean the end of online advertisement. On the contrary, it is a challenge which marketers must face and discover better and less intrusive ways to promote their products and services through targeted ads, through content marketing, and through better and more personal relationships with their followers on the social media.