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Is Digital Advertising Singing Its Swan Song?

Digital advertising is an integral part of any campaign. That being said, advertisers are beginning to struggle to keep the ads alive with the highly popular trend of adblocking.

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It’s a topic that has been circulating for some time now, causing us AdMen (and women) to break a bit of a sweat. But is it necessarily a bad thing?

Take a moment to go on any website and I could confidently guarantee that you’ll come across an advert of some kind. Whether this is a YouTube advert, promoting the latest in shaving trends, or a Google Display, telling me where I can find a babysitter (that’s not random, I just came across it in my extensive research). The point is, they’re everywhere.
Check out this great video which highlights how digital ad spend has grown in the last ten years.

£7.2 Billion. That’s a lot of ads… With this in mind, it’s easy to understand how consumers may grow weary of online adverts. This is where adblockers come in. An adblocker is an extension for your internet browser which will prevent you from seeing some of the £7.2 Billion plus worth of ads that are circulating today. The usual merits for implementing adblockers are the security aspect, nobody has time for those nasty little viruses, as well as the fact that site pages tend to load faster with no adverts. However, probably the most interesting reason (and the one that all advertisers worth their salt should pay attention to) is the fact that users are smart. Really smart. They know what they want to see and they know where they want to see it.

Imagine, if you will, heading over to the Sky Sports website when suddenly, le wild children’s toy advert appears. Now, chances are that there would be a small handful of people who would so happen to be interested in this adverts, however children and parents are not the target audience of Sky Sports. Sports fans are. Their users head to their website to find out the latest fixtures and news in the world of sport. Not to gaze upon the latest Barbie Dreamhouse (is that still a thing?). Now, I’m not saying that parents don’t frequent the Sky Sports website, but it’s all about context. And thus, adblockers are becoming more and more commonplace.

Chuck Townsend recently spoke to Ad Age, summing up the digital advertising problem perfectly when he said;

“Ad blocking is really a way to articulate the fact that consumers have negative reactions to advertising out of context,”

He went on to say;

“[On how ad blocking is the answer to a demand] driven by the fact that these consumers are saying, ‘Not for me. Thank you. I don’t want it.’”

Show a sports fan, searching for the latest Man United results, an advert for a children’s toy and of course they are going to have a negative reaction. The advert is in the wrong context for the user’s wants and needs. So can advertisers really blame users for blocking their ads? The answer is no. As every other avenue of digital advances in its practices, so must how we advertise. By implementing ad blockers, users are telling us that we need to become smarter. Not smarter in the sense of attempting to bypass these blockers, but smarter in ensuring that those who are being served adverts, are being served a quality placement within the right contextual setting.

So how will adblockers affect the future of advertising?

If the issue is not addressed, we could see a drastic fall in digital. With traditional advertising making somewhat of a comeback, this is a long overdue wake up call to marketers to up their game and think about the consumer, not just impressions. At the end of the day, the consumer is the one we need to appeal to, so why waste budgets on an audience who 1. Do not have any interest in seeing the ads and 2. Won’t take any action on it (other than to perhaps block it of course…).

What do you think? Are adblockers really the future or is there still time for advertisers to kick start their thinking and make advertising great again? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

photo credit: practice_adblock via photopin (license)

Written By Ashley Smith

Ashley Smith

Ashley is our Client Service Executive, working to deliver top drawer content marketing and social media campaigns for our clients.

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