PageFair’s 2016 Ad Blocking Report gives us a good indication the current state and future of adblocking. The study shows that over 419 million people are using ad blockers on their smartphones globally. Adblocking browser usage doubled during 2015 and there are new ways of blocking ads (on telco, internet service provider, and app levels.) This mass adoption is coming mainly from emerging markets like India, China, Pakistan, and Indonesia. Users in these countries are much more sensitive about data allowances and WI-FI is not as popular and available as it’s in Australia.
In another recent study, AdRoll found that mobile inventory available for mobile Safari users saw a slight decrease when Apple announced ad blockers back in September 2015. However, after the initial drop-off, inventory numbers were back where they started and available inventory kept on growing. It seems like not all smartphone users are bothered to download and customise an app for the sake of blocking ads.
Publishers and content providers have started to take action. Blocking audiences from accessing free content if the user is using an ad blocker has become the tactic of choice. For example, BILD from Germany, Europe’s top-selling tabloid, forces readers to pay €2.99 a month or switch off their ad-blockers.
In summary, ad-blocking is not a major concern for first world countries. Despite ad blockers, we don’t have any inventory shortage and content owners are supporting advertisers by taking a stand against ad blocking. This doesn’t change the fact that our audience is not necessarily happy with ad experiences on their smartphones. In the words of Stephan Loerke, CEO, World Federation of Advertisers, “we have heard the message loud and clear. An increasing number of people aren’t satisfied with the online ad experience.”
So, what can we do?
Use the Right Targeting
Today’s advanced targeting capabilities on mobile allow us to find the right audience for our campaigns. Campaigns should utilise all relevant targeting capabilities (location, audience, and contextual) to ensure that the right audience is reached. Even when a rich media ad is interesting, entertaining, and powerful, if it’s served to the wrong audience, it defeats the purpose.
Use the Right Content
Campaign results, ad server statistics, and user feedback all support that these ad units, when combined with the right audience targeting, provide higher engagement and click-through rates. However, not all brands are utilizing the benefits of mobile rich media.
Think Tilting, tapping, pinching, shaking, or swiping. The most successful mobile games globally all benefit from using a smartphone’s native functionalities. Adopting these functionalities creates more excitement and engagement with an ad unit.
It is essential that mobile campaigns feature mobile-specific creative. Unfortunately, most mobile ads today are just a replica of desktop ads, which are often a replica of print ads. 15 to 30-second video ads designed for TV screens are shown on mobile. Quoting David Chavern, CEO of Newspaper Association of America, “The public is not inherently hostile to advertising. What people hate are bad ads. Digital advertising is still too derivative of print and TV advertising. There isn’t an ad vocabulary that is optimised for the digital environment experience. People love Vine videos — so why are there no 7-second ads?” Producing mobile specific content when planning a campaign is the only way to overcome this.
Share Value: Give!
Smartphones are the most personal gadgets out there. As advertisers, we must observe our audiences smartphone habits and seek ways to be complementary to their experiences instead of being interrupting. For example, sponsored listening on major music streaming services is a good tool that enables this. On Spotify and Pandora, brands can sponsor hour-long sessions during which users watch a branded video in order to unlock an ad-free listening session.