Our Adtech Stars column features contributions and insight from thought leaders in the adtech community.
The digital marketing industry should not feel threatened by the rise of adblocking, particularly its widely reported imminent adoption by Apple, and the recent victory of Adblock Plus in the German courts. It should be grateful to these players for giving us the push we need to raise the bar for higher quality, more user-centric advertising.
These developments should be seen as a call to action for the industry to up its game – brands, publishers, digital platforms and agencies alike. Online ads must become better through a process of ongoing quality control and continued investment in new technologies to enable ads that are relevant, interesting and provide user value. This will ultimately lead us into a new phase of online advertising where marketing is effective because it’s personalised, not because it’s intrusive.
We at AdRoll support Adblock Plus developer Eyeo’s rationale that users should be in control of their internet experience. Their commitment to “working with publishers, advertisers and content creators to encourage non-intrusive ads and discover new ways to make ads better”, as they said in a statement to the BBC, is admirable. We agree – the onus is on us all to work together for online advertising to be more creative, engaging, seamless and ultimately, effective. If we can make a considered communal effort to deliver advertising that the end user doesn’t feel is worthless or disruptive, then this will go some way towards eradicating the public’s desire to use adblockers. This will also lessen the threat to publishers and how this ruling, and adblocking overall, stands to compromise their revenue streams.
It’s no secret that annoying ads repel consumers – there is plenty of data that points to this, putting this statement in the ‘not rocket science’ category. For example, a consumer study released by Millward Brown in May showed that just 36% felt favourable towards online ads, while the Journal of Marketing Research also published a paper in May outlining how annoying digital ads can cost more money than they earn for publishers. These insights are in line with AdRoll’s perspective that we don’t want to waste impressions on ads that users don’t want to see or are viewed as annoying. These are wasted impressions which lessen the user experience and incur costs for our advertisers – it benefits no one.
The internet thrives because it allows ideas, information and other content to flow freely, and advertising has an important part to play in this. From custom Pandora radio stations and bottomless Gmail accounts, to Twitter feeds and casual games of Candy Crush; users have come to expect these services for free, without paywalls, contracts or subscriptions, thanks to advertising.
But the online ad industry has become comfortable with the status quo, thinking it can continue to dine out on sub-par advertising, a hangover from the first phase of online advertising which was dominated by direct response marketing. Without robust targeting capabilities, advertisers developed an over-reliance on obnoxious practices such as dancing aliens and obtrusive popups.
The key to the new phase is putting the user first so the dynamic of the relationship rightly changes. Advertisers must meet user expectations if they are to earn their goodwill and be confident they are a person receptive to their message. We champion best practice such as effective audience segmentation, frequency capping and audience duration, which help drive higher ROI results for our customers, and show the benefits of tailored creative.
Getting under the skin of what your audience wants to hear from you and will respond to is crucial if we as an industry are going to work together to overcome the threat of adblocking. Building a more audience-centric relationship between users and advertisers will help ensure that more information and content remains free – and put quality at the top of the industry’s agenda.