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Ad Blocking: What it Means for Advertisers

The internet has become an ad-cluttered, congested highway of information.  The user experience of web browsing has become not so pleasant, so it comes as no surprise when, according to eMarketer, over 25% of Internet users will use ad blocking software this year.

The Digital Ad Experience

Admit it. You’ve clicked (at least) one of those bottom-of-the-page “related articles” or “you might also like” ads with a headline something similar to “Top 10 Wealthiest People in the World – #8 WILL BLOW YOUR MIND” or “29 Ways You Can Eat Chips.” Until reading one of those headlines, you were fine with simply not knowing 28 other ways to eat chips, or who #8 on the world’s wealthiest people list is, but after reading it you just have to know. Without question, each way you can eat chips will be formatted on its own page, requiring you to load 29 different pages – all containing roughly 85% display ads and 15% of actual information – if you can even call it that.  The pages load slowly as the myriad of ad spaces fetch data from their ad servers and you sit there pondering if #8 really will blow your mind.  Now of course, not all browsing experiences are as terrible as the click-bait posts just mentioned, but over the years the ad-to-information ratio has been flipped to the point where ads vastly outnumber the amount of meaningful information.   “Ad blocking is a detriment to the entire advertising ecosystem, affecting mostly publishers, but also marketers, agencies, and others whose businesses depend on ad revenue. The best way for the industry to tackle this problem is to deliver compelling ad experience that consumers won’t want to block.”

How can publishers offer a compelling digital ad experience?

Creating a “compelling ad experience” is easier said than done, especially when over 63 million US users have already decided to block ads.  I highly doubt an “amazing ad experience” is going to compel those people to get rid of their ad blockers. In my opinion, the issue isn’t with unpersuasive advertisements, but rather the over-abundant amount of ads we are subject to in a single browsing experience.  “The good news is that numbers like this have forced those within the industry to think long and hard about what it is that they need to do better,” says Bill Fisher, eMarketer Analyst.

How do marketers get around ad blocking?

Ad blocking is more common on desktops and laptops than on smartphones, and ad blockers typically don’t work on apps, where users spend most of their mobile internet time.  While smaller publishers are most at risk from the rapid adoption of ad blocking software, as they often solely rely on revenues from advertising to continue operating, sites with lower ad inventory per page can offer a richer experience to users.

While the ad blocking outlook may look grim, more than 75% of US users are still reachable with digital advertisements and I’m confident that digital publishers will straighten up their act before ad blocking users reach a majority.  There is simply too much money at stake to miss out on.  Until then, we’re working hard to find the best opportunities in digital and traditional media that will offer the best environment for our clients.

Chuck Fetterly is Founder and President of TEC Direct Media. He's leading the company's product development and technology strategy. When he's not developing new business and strategizing with clients you can probably find him playing piano or water skiing on a lake in Maine.