If paid advertising is an integral part of your digital marketing strategy, it shouldn’t surprise you that three quarters of North Americans engage in some type of ad blocking behavior. In a 2017 report, advisory firm Deloitte even dubbed a subset of today’s consumers “adlergic,” noting that they use ad blocking across four or more types of traditional and digital media channels.
Luckily for today’s marketers, no one surveyed by the advisory firm blocked all types of ads. That means there is still ample opportunity to create attractive advertising, especially if you avoid the practices that drive consumers to block ads in the first place.
Are You Annoying Your Potential Customers?
Intrusive advertising practices, such as pop ups and autoplay video ads, are behind the adoption of ad blocking software. Even companies that rely on ad revenue, such as Google, have taken significant steps to reduce frustrating ad experiences. Google’s latest update to its Chrome browser, released in December 2018, curtails advertising that falls under its definition of “abusive experiences,” such as ads that appear to be chat apps or system dialogues.
Even if your advertising practices are aboveboard, you’re likely feeling the impact of ad blocking. According to PageFair’s 2017 Global Adblock Report, 615 million devices have some type of ad blocker installed, which means that many potential customers aren’t seeing your digital ads — regardless of placement or functionality.
The good news? PageFair also found that 77% of respondents were willing to view some ad formats, which signals that it’s very possible to deliver ad experiences that inspire engagement rather than frustration. Below are three digital marketing tactics for delighting — rather than annoying — customers who block ads.
Tactic No. 1: Go Native
Native advertising has increased in popularity in recent years, and with good reason. This type of advertising is inherently non-disruptive; native ads are designed to match the look and feel of the content around them. Studies even show that native ads trigger positive feelings about brands and generate higher click-through rates than traditional display advertising. Furthermore, publishers expect native advertising to drive 36% of their overall ad revenue by 2021.
The secret to creating a successful native ad is simple: Strive for valuable, engaging content that doesn’t harp too much on the benefits of your brand. Buzzfeed, one of the leaders of the modern native advertising movement, creates sales pitch-free ads that whet its audience’s appetite for humorous listicles. For example, music streaming platform Spotify has sponsored over 30 Buzzfeed posts, from “15 Bands That Probably Wouldn't Exist Without Led Zeppelin” to “13 Songs For Every Stage Of Your Road Trip.”
“Our branded content at times outperforms our editorial content,” Brandon Keenen, Buzzfeed’s former senior director of EMEA brand partnerships, told the Native Advertising Institute. “...We don’t see a massive drop-off on branded content, so it’s a great opportunity for brands to engage with the audience and a community in a way that there’s no lesser value in because it’s ‘branded’ or ‘promoted by’.”
Tactic No. 2: Advertise in App
In its report, Deloitte called out mobile as “the most obvious target for advertisers” who are looking to succeed in the era of ad blocking. Mobile phones drove 52.2% of all website traffic in 2018 and Deloitte found that consumers are 10% less likely to block ads on a mobile device than on a laptop or desktop.
Even if consumers do block ads on a mobile device, it’s mostly at the browser level. Accordingly, advertisers have embraced in-app display ads (which users don’t entirely mind--if the app itself was free) and native advertising on apps like Instagram. Gaming apps are another avenue to consider: Rewarded video ads, which allow users to watch your video ad in order to earn in-app currency or other prizes, provide a willing and captive audience for your advertising.
Tactic No. 3: Be Creative — and Relevant
Ad blocking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to CIM, 76% of marketers think ad blocking will encourage some much-needed creativity in the field.
The majority of consumers don’t hate advertising; they hate bad experiences. “Paying” them for their time with rewarded video ads or producing native ad content that speaks to their interests are just two ways to succeed in the era of ad blocking. There’s so much more you can do, from working with influencers to honing the messages in your owned media. As long as your marketing is relevant and interesting, engagement is inevitable.
With over a decade of experience across digital marketing, content, creative, and PR, Sarah is a creative and dynamic thinker who loves to delight clients with unique and relatable content. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Sociology.