Contributed by Melissa Hefner, Director, Account Strategy, North Central Region at Goodway Group
Ad-mageddon? The end of digital advertising as we know it? The end of the free Internet?
Although much hyped and hotly debated across the industry, ad blockers do not signify the end of digital advertising. However, they certainly are having an impact and will spur change across the digital ad industry. So what are ad blockers, how do they work, and what are we going to do about it?
WHAT ARE AD BLOCKERS?
An ad blocker is any type of tool, app, or plug-in that stops ad content from being downloaded before a web browser fully loads.
Although there has been an explosion in ad blocking services over the past year, this isn’t a new issue as desktop and Android ad blockers have been around for many years.
WHAT DO AD BLOCKERS BLOCK?
Right now, they target the more “intrusive” types of ads, such as pop-ups and high-impact ads, as well as certain types of tracking codes that provide data on how a user interacts with a page.
However, some ad blockers can remove banners, sponsored posts, pre-roll, YouTube ads, and Facebook Sponsored Stories.
HOW DO AD BLOCKERS WORK?
- A person downloads and runs an ad blocking application (most often a plug-in or browser extension).
- That person opens their browser and visits a website.
- While the webpage is loading, the blocker looks at the site, compares it to a list it was built to block, and if it finds any ads, it blocks them.
HOW MANY PEOPLE USE AD BLOCKERS?
There is no reliable consensus on exactly how many people are using ad blockers today. However, we know the number is growing.
Ad block usage grew in the United States by 48% last year, according to a report by PageFair and Adobe. The same report indicates that 16% of the US online population blocked ads last year, equating to an estimated loss of $10B in revenue.
A comScore and Sourcepoint report from June 2015 states that ad blockers tend to be millennials and have higher incomes.
POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS ON YOUR CAMPAIGNS?
It’s important to point out that this is largely a publisher concern, and they’re well aware of it. They know exactly how much advertising traffic is being blocked and the methods the ad blockers are using. There are two potential implications:
- There may be a reduction in available inventory because blocking ads reduces total available inventory.
- There may be an increase in reporting discrepancies since a client ad server may be blocked while the vendor ad server is not.
At Goodway, our partners don’t need to worry about paying for blocked ads. Ads that are blocked are not registered as impressions by our ad server, so we don’t ever pay for them.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF AD BLOCKERS?
No one can be certain the full impact that ad blockers will have in years to come. Content is not free, so unless the web moves to a 100% paid access model, digital ads are here to stay.
Publishers are focused on creating a better user experience through more relevant ads and lighter website load times. We are in a transition period, and these blockers will continue to push the industry and publishers to put user experience first.
An integral part of Goodway Group’s sales-enablement team, Melissa delivers thorough pre-sales research and clever strategy to make clients heroes every day. Drawing from her extensive experience working with full-service agencies in the media world, she truly enjoys helping clients navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital media, search marketing, and performance analytics.