Ad Blocking: Consumer Response to Dismal User Experience
Ad Blocking is garnering much attention these days and statistics show there is a dramatic increase in the number of consumers who are taking advantage of ad blocking technologies. In fact, a recent IAB study noted a 48% YOY increase in active ad blocking users for the 12 months ending June 2015. It is estimated that around 35% of U.S Internet users utilize ad-blocking technology and 63% of Millennials take advantage of ad blockers.
Why the dramatic increase in ad blocking usage?
While there is much hand-wringing from those entrenched within the digital advertising arena, the underlying driver of the growth in ad blocking is a consumer-based reaction to what has become an unacceptable user experience. Web users are saying “NO THANKS” to intrusive, poor quality ads that are neither relevant nor contextually aligned with the content. They’re also saying “NO THANKS” to take-over ads and sites that look like the Vegas Strip with auto-play video. In short, consumers are saying that ad blocking is their only option to ads that are of NO VALUE.
So, what’s the best solution to what some consider the potential undoing of the entire digital advertising ecosystem? Block ad blocking technology? Block the content for consumers who use ad blocking technology? Declare ad blocking illegal?
NO! It’s the twenty-first century and a consumer driven economy with readers who want to control their browsing experience. Should they really be penalized? Respect for the consumer experience has been sacrificed in the frenzied growth of digital media consumption and related digital advertising investment. And yet some forward-thinking brands have demonstrated that engaging, relevant and contextually aligned advertising is an excellent form of valuable content. In fact, thoughtfully designed and relevant ads can both enrich the user experience and improve advertising campaign performance. Market research consistently shows dramatic campaign lift for advertising that is contextually relevant. If the consumer does truly benefit from viewing contextually relevant ads, then ad blocking technology growth will stall and its pervasive use will dwindle.
The consumer has spoken. And, for digital advertising to thrive, we need to give them what they’re asking for – engaging, relevant and contextually aligned advertising content. What’s clear is that we need to cut through the chaos and provide a high-quality user experience on the web. Do this and everyone wins…, the publisher, the advertiser and maybe most importantly, the consumer.
Alison Kane is a Strategic Advisor for zvelo and has an 18-year history of championing innovation. She has been at the forefront of SaaS, e-commerce, and Ad Tech industry’s transformation where she is known for delivering results at the intersection of strategy and execution.