Marketing During the Rise of Ad Blockers

A war is being waged against pop-up ads. According to Tech Crunch, a single type of ad blocking software, AdBlock Plus, has already been downloaded almost a billion times.

eMarketer estimates that about 69.8 million Americans will use ad blockers in 2016. This number makes up more than a quarter of internet users. As a result, the companies that are sponsoring pop-up ads are losing business. In 2015, ad blocking resulted in $21.8 billion in lost revenue.  PageFair, a startup that helps publishers fight ad blockers, reported that 1 out of 5 smartphone users takes advantage of ad blocking software.

Like any marketing strategy, pop-up ads won’t be effective if they annoy their intended audience. However, they can’t convert if no one sees them. In the face of massively adopted ad blockers, marketers are looking to fight blocking or are searching for alternatives to pop-up ads.

Why People Hate Pop-up Ads

You’re reading the first paragraph of a fascinating article on your favorite travel destination when suddenly your view is obscured. Now 80% of the page is covered by an ad for denture adhesive. A timer is counting down. In 10 seconds, you can go back to the site. You search for an X so you can shut the ad down. But it’s so tiny you can barely see it.

Sometimes multiple ads pop up, hiding the X even more. People have even reported seeing pop-up ads promoting ad blocking software. These ads are intrusive and create conflicted feelings towards the publishers who use them to finance their content.

Forbes found that 36% of people who use ad blockers were opposed to them because they find pop-up ads annoying. An additional 19% worried that the ads were infected by malware and 17% felt the ads reflected a violation their privacy. If they were targeted by ads, the company must know too much about them.

Ways to Fight Ad Blocking

With ad blockers taking a bite out of company’s revenue and visibility, marketers are scrambling to find ways around them. This is especially important because ad blockers are attracting key demographics, like millennials. AdAge reported that 41% of millennials—customers aged between 18 and 29—use ad blockers.

When Forbes discovered that 20% of their desktop visitors used ad blockers, they started exploring their options. Strategies they considered included asking ad blockers not to target their ads. Forbes has started to ask users with ad blockers to whitelist their ads before accessing content. They have also offered an “ad lite” version of their content to users willing to disable their ad blocker.

Network World reported that Forbes infected readers who disabled their ad blocker software with malware. In an absurd episode, security experts disabled their ad blockers to read some security research that was included in the Forbes article, The Forbes 30 Under 30. Disabling the ad blocker enabled malware to infect their computers.

Other companies are trying to reason with their customers. They point out that, without ads, they can’t afford to produce the content readers love. Some organizations have explored blocking content from potential customers that use ad blockers.

Another option is to ask viewers to pay for ad-free versions of their content. The success of this approach depends on how original consumers perceive the content offered to be. If customers can find similar content elsewhere, they won’t pay.

Making Lemonade Out of Ad Blocker Lemons

The rise of ad blockers may be giving marketers the information they need to create better marketing strategies. If the goal is to reach customers how, where, and when they prefer, ad blocking software is sending the clear message that this is not happening.

Marketers can use this negative feedback to figure out how to create a better user experience that will engage users instead of turning them off. For instance, Imgur inspired their users to request more ads after the organization customized their pop-ups to appeal to their target audience.

Marketing analytics are the key to the kind of marketing turnaround Imgur experienced. Analytics can help your business understand why potential customers are rejecting certain marketing channels, like pop-up ads. Once you understand which channels they prefer and why, you can design a marketing plan that caters to their preferences.

Need help deciding if pop-up ads have a place in your marketing strategy? Reach out to the marketing experts at Pluris

Category: strategy, Marketing

Michael Caccavale

Michael Caccavale

As the leader of Pluris, CEO Michael Caccavale is the innovator and forward-thinker behind the company’s marketing enablement, analytic and optimization solutions.

About this blog

At Pluris, we believe that we all can do a better, more efficient job at marketing to our most important customers. On this blog, we'll discuss how strategy, database management, offer optimization and analytics can help us all be better marketers. Sometimes, we may just talk about sports.

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