ADPOCALYPSE, and the end of an era of digital advertising – Adblocker alert!

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In 2015, ad blockers are supposed to cost $ 22 billion for all industries. This outstanding figures will be generated by ad banners that people will not see and that brands might end up paying anyway. This situation makes a new word to surf the crest of the trends: VIEWABILITY. Are your ads really seen? Are they seen by humans? And the right ones? Loads of questions that ultimately will create a big problem for advertisers and publishers.
Certain studies mention that today’s viewability rate for a campaign is in average between 35% to 50%. In the luxury industry, best practices in media buying would talk about 46% of viewability. This means there is 50% of your ad investment that counts for peanuts. How come?

  • Banners bellow the folder
  • Non-human traffic (web-robots)
  • Plugin-ins and technology issues
  • Downloading times
  • Geo-blocking contexts

In today’s advertising world, luxury companies and high-tech brands dominate the landscape. These advertisers are creative, powerful and have a great appeal. This is not necessary good luxury news but the industry is thinking about how to tackle this in a different way. In the meantime, we are not far from the advertising doom day.

Technology is the real killer

Two main changes happened this year: the official death of flash and the rise of Ad-blockers. These two (r)evolutions change radically the way digital marketers will see their campaigns develop. With the death of flash, ad creation became more complex as the HTML5 code needs to blend to the website code. The integration is cleaner and multiple devices compatible but requires more work in terms of integration. It is also more costly to produce (vs flash). In a way this follows the trend of responsive / adaptive websites in which the pages layout would adapt based on the user device (desktop, Smartphone or tablet). By using HTML5 marketers make sure their ads will adapt to the website behavior. In the battle between Adobe (flash) and Apple (HTML5) the Cupertino company won. So we talk about the slow death of flash.

The second point that created the buzz was the rise of ad-blocking technology. Ad-blockers is the hot word right now. Just Google it and you will find millions of hits. Google even propose the best download possible depending on the device you are searching with. One interesting question is: will ad blockers work on Google Adwords? The answer is it depends. Google paid $887 million to Adblocker Plus in order to display their ads. There is project called Acceptable Ads Initiative that started in 2011 and it is supposed to describe what is a good ad for users.

  • Static Advertisement only
  • Ads should not interrupt the page content
  • No Scroll downs required
  • When Ads placed on the right side, should leave enough place for the content
  • Ads should be marked as “Advertising”
  • Etc.

Naturally if the user decide to block adwords, he will be able to although it is not a always on option activated by default. Google get paid only if the users click on the ads. Brands do not pay for visibility (impressions) but for engagement (clicks). So potentially, the people who click all the time on adtexts will not necessary install an adblocker. People who are annoyed about ads in general do not click on adtexts and banners. So these people would and will install adblockers. At the end it is not a big loss. Nevertheless, adblockers are a reality and it is going to hurt a lot. And actually more than you think. So far here are the type of adblocker technology:

  • Block technology like blocking Flash, pop-ups or autoplay videos
  • White lists and black lists
  • Ad-blockers browsers extension, preventing ad banners to appear
  • External softwares and hardwares

Media owners and publishers, how to defend the castle?

Before installing your adblocker, did you ever ask yourself what is the mechanics and the reasons why you see ads in a website? Naturally you believe it is because publishers want to get rich. But did you ever ask yourself how come you can access that
Content for free? Let’s take the example of a magazine or a newspaper (a good one). All that content that you access every day, every week or every month for free (digital) or for a small amount (vs the real cost) it is because of advertising. Paying journalists, photographers, video directors, editors, website maintenance and printing facilities cost a lot of money. As most of people would never pay thousands of dollars for their subscription, companies need to have advertising to pay for their independence and quality of the content. Or media owners should get investments from private people or worse: from the government (think about it). So rather than compromise the quality of the content, websites prefer to offer fairly good advertising, the best they can offer with the technology that is available. And trust me, today we can target people like never before. So, is it a fair deal to get free/almost free access to great content? Pretty much I would say if the quality and type of advertising is adapted.
How publishers fight back this adblocker trend? By alerting the user and letting him know that his adblocker might kill the media industry or make it inaccessible without paying the price.
adblocker-warning Many websites are preventing you to access their content if your adblocker is on. It is a fight of power and you better trust that the user will disable his adblocker to access you website. Or he might just go to another place.
It is the slow death of banners. Advertising needs to evolve and to become something different. By placing by default in their OS or new browsers releases, technology companies are forcing the change. Apple is placing a ln active ad blocker on its iOS9 Safari. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome cut flash and adblockers can be installed in a glimpse of an eye. 

What does it means for your next digital media campaign? Well the era of digital advertising as we know it, is over. Banners are dead and only an editori approach would lead us to a great user experience. Called it advertainment, advertorial or digital native integration, these represent a more authentic and really interesting approach of the internet user. 

Luxury brands are integrating this approach to their media plans and certain media owners are shifting their strategies. They go from ad impressions machines to a more content oriented vision. They create internal studios allowing brands to co-create interesting content with them and distribute the content that is supposed to be highly relevant for their audiences. 

The next couple of month will be interesting to measure the true impact of this trend in the advertising industry.


Info sourced at Forbes, International New York Times, Quora, Wikipedia and Google adwords. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are used for illustration purposes only.

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