GDPR has perhaps taken all the attention as of late, but ad blocking is still very much a real problem for the digital advertising industry. Best illustrated by our latest study documenting that ad blocking is growing on mobile devices. A part of the solution is to deliver more relevant ads and improve the general ad experience.
The issue of ad blocking has been flying a bit under the radar due to other topics taking the spotlight. Unfortunately, blocking ads did not magically become a thing of the past, while we weren't looking.
Mobile ad blocking on the rise
While ad blocking on the computer is more or less flat-lining, ad blocking on the mobile is now rising. In the UK the use of ad blocking on the mobile has taken a quick jump from just 2% in 2016 to 8% in 2018.
In other words, ad blocking has not become less of a challenge for the digital advertising industry, and especially the publishers whose business depends on the ad revenue.
Relevant ads cure ad blocking
On the positive side, I believe there is a cure for reducing the use of ad blocking; namely, relevant ads.
When looking at why ad blocking users are blocking ads, two main reasons are highlighted. First, they find that websites are more manageable without banners and secondly, they want to avoid irrelevant ads. This applies to 57% and 50% of the UK ad block users, respectively.
At the same time, when looking at how it would affect people’s perception of a brand if their ads were placed together with relevant content, it becomes clear that there is a very high correlation to whether the person generally has a positive or negative attitude towards ads.
Summing up, it turns out that it is not so much about which context an ad is placed within that gives the viewer a negative brand perception, but rather the irrelevance of the ad.
A golden opportunity
These findings clearly show how a focus on delivering more relevant ads and improving the ad experience can have a positive impact on the use of ad blocking. Instead of a threat, the current state of ad blocking should, therefore, also be seen as an opportunity to curb the tendency towards blocking ads.
The solution may seem simple, but advertisers and publishers need to address this by keep taking a more data driven-approach to advertising making it possible to serve more personalised ads with relevant messages.
This can e.g be done by applying demographic data to online campaigns, which will decrease the number of irrelevant ads significantly resulting in fewer people being annoyed and more people going to uninstall their ad blockers. Just like the right editorial content leads to higher engagement, more relevant ads lead to higher engagement and greater acceptance of the commercial content.
The findings in this post are taken from ‘AudienceProject Insights 2018: Attitude towards advertising and use of ad blocking’ based on more than 16.000 individual survey respondents across seven countries; the US, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.