The use of ad blockers has become a growing concern in advertising with an estimated 121 million people who use ad-blocking software. And now with Apple entering the mix, allowing users to install ad-blocking software on mobile devices—it’s something that’s definitely changing the digital landscape whether you want to admit it or not. There’s no question that in order to survive, advertisers need to adapt to meet the overwhelming needs of consumers who are all craving a better digital experience.
While this trend may send some in a panic, it actually can be very beneficial for not only consumers, but for advertisers as well. Ad blocking will challenge brands to be relevant and hone in on more specific, receptive audiences, which in turn will achieve higher returns.
The first step is with simpler ad designs. Think about it: Distracting ads, take-overs and complex animations that eat up load times are just the type of ads consumers want to block, especially with mobile. Banner ads should have smaller file sizes, be less distracting, and more tailored to match the look and feel of the websites they’re placed on. And instead of crazy animations and gimmicks, ads need to catch the eyes of consumers with more emphasis on messaging that is specific to them.
Many advertisers are going toward native advertising or sponsoring content on sites such as BuzzFeed or Refinery29. However, this avenue is beginning to get more scrutiny than before, and may not be completely safe from ad blocking. While ad-blocking software primarily works by blocking ad-serving domains on a page, in some cases even if the publisher themselves serve up the content, it can get caught in the ad-blocking net.
For now, the best solution seems to be more in social and in-app advertising, where ads are more integrated and immune to ad blocking. This makes sense, as consumers are spending more time on mobile apps rather than on the web, which is attracting not only advertisers, but publishers as well. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are all seeing increases in ad spending. And with geo-locating abilities and data to help brands zero in on the specific audiences they want to reach, it’s a no-brainer why advertisers are drooling.
But no matter where the trend goes, we all still have a responsibility to the consumer. The bottom line should be about not distracting a consumer’s digital experience—but enhancing it.