Ad Blockers and the Future of Paid Marketing

Is Ad-blocking killing digital marketing? How to survive blocked ads?

ad-blockers-digital-marketingRecently, many digital marketer are waking up in the morning hit by marketing crisis in the form of ad blocker success, threatening to render current paid marketing strategies useless.

Many of us get annoyed by Ads. Are all Online Ads evil?

Advertising is essential for survival of many of the websites we use on daily basis and now take for granted including Google and Facebook. If there is no stream of online revenue through advertising of some kind, they cannot function. For the likes of Wall Street Journal and NY Times, possibly (I strongly mean it) consumers will pay to read the content, however, for 99% of rest of the websites, without advertising their online presence will be threatened.

AdBlockers (and various versions of Ad Blockers, Ad Blocker Plus etc) for all popular browsers are double edged sword:

  • Privacy and Freedom from Ads: They remove the annoying ad from the websites
  • Lost Revenue: Hiding Ads makes merchants and participating websites lose possible revenue
  • Additional Benefit to consumers: Faster page load time for valuable content!

Ad Blocker impact equally applies to Desktop and Mobile, specially after iOS 9.

How do Ad Blockers work?

Ad Blockers simply function by blocking the piece of JavaScript that is used to dynamically generate PPC ads. Depending upon which particular app is installed they block from annoying pop-ups to Google Adwords. Normally, it’s a browser plugin in desktop or an app on iOS 9. Certain IPs might be blocked or specific scripts. Then, by looking at the CSS, either a blank space is created or users might see something different on the height width of ad space.

Function of Ad Block: Popular Ad Blocker Plus works as below:

adblockplus_credit_quora_aghawal

 

On Desktop: Ad Blockers impact Banner Ads, Text Ads, PLA, as well as Video Ads – See caption below

cnn_without_adblocker

Pay attention to the area above the navigation where there is a banner ad from Showtime, without Ad Blocker. That area is removed when AdBlocker is installed and activated.

On Mobile Device – iOS 9 Example

ad-blockers-before-after-tweet

Look Ma! No Ads! (on right screen)

Why Merchants using PPC should worry about Adblocker?

  1. Lost Clicks:
    Ad blockers are preventing merchant’s ad being displayed to the users. However there is nothing a digital marketer do about it as it’s upto the consumers to be able to decide whether or not they would want to view any paid ads.
  2. The Impression and CTR problem:
    Ad blockers creates a misleading scenario for digital marketers. The paid ad that has been blocked on the consumer side will be counted as a displayed impression by Google AdWords and Bing AdCenter. As of now, there is no way for digital marketers to take this factor into account. Its direct impact would be on lower CTR on the Ads, however, once again currently there is no way for marketers to determine how to take the impact of Ad Blockers into lower CTR.For example, before Ad Blockers exist, if the number of impressions of a particular ad that would be targeted to the entire US online population was 100, after the Ad Blockers adaption, as of Q4 on 2015, that impression has in theory dropped to 72 (100-38). This drop in impression could cause unknown impact on CTR as well.
  3. Growth of Ad Blockers:
    This is especially alarming as the rate of adaption of the ad blockers in increasing significantly according to the Global Web Index. (See chart below). Currently, 38% of internet users have Ad Blocking installed on their computers.

rise-of-ad-blocking-chart

Similarly, another piece of data presented by Adobe / PageFair supports the rate of adaption of Ad blockers presented by Global Web Index.

ad-blockers-adoption-growth-chart

 

Do Advertiser’s pay for blocked Ads?

No. Since consumers don’t see the ad, merchants will not have to pay for the Ads.

Does Adblocker block Google Analtyics?

This is a bit more complex question and answer might vary based upon various Ad blocker programs, settings, configurations and filters set within the app.
The impression example from above will apply here to Traffic. If a website had 100 visits from iOS, now all of a sudden the visits seem to drop by % of consumers with Ad Blocker installed. The website and its analytics team would have no insight into why the traffic is dropping.

Final Takeaways on Ad Blockers for Digital Marketers

It’s high time all digital marketers as well as analtyics team review impression and traffic of their paid ads as well as overall traffic. Begin to build better understanding of one’s own audience and their behavior towards Ad Blocker. Hopefully, this will lead towards corelation between percentage of users with Ad Blockers installed on desktop as well as on mobile devices to traffic and paid ads impressions.

  • Pay special attention to Paid Impression, Traffic, and CTR with Ad Blockers in mind (results may vary based upon audience)
  • Organic SERP: It’s also high time to review where your website is showing up organically, which will always continue to be visible.
  • Mobile App: So far Mobile Apps are free of Ad Blockers.
  • Consider Native Advertising
  • Keep an eye on FTC policies here.
  • Begin to take this more seriously as more and computers are now shipped with Ad Blocker pre-installed. This takes away the notion only few consumers will install this piece of software.

Ad Blockers are certainly a double edged sword with advantages to consumers while hurting the merchants and eventually hurting the very consumers.

 

About Ujjwal Bhattarai

Ujjwal is an engineer by education, a programmer by hobby, and an internet marketer by choice. Other than 1 minute chess, and biking, his passion includes SEO, SEM/PPC, CRO, and Web Development. As a lifelong student of Internet Development, he is hopelessly addicted to Internet, and sincerely believes after fire, wheel, and decimal point, internet is the fourth most important invention in the human history. Catch up with him on Twitter at @uj2wal or at his Google+ .

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