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Five Ways to Overcome the Ad-Blocking Apocalypse

Five Ways to Overcome the Ad-Blocking Apocalypse

If you believe the hype generated by the recent launch of mobile ad-blocking plugins and browsers, it looks like “game over” for online advertising.

Mobile ads have come a long way, and were forecast by eMarketer to pass $100 billion in global spend next year. But, with ad blocking already having grown by 41% last year, PageFair estimated $22 billion was already being lost to the industry, and now iOS 9’s addition of content blockers looks set to limit that growth.

However, it’s not quite the end for savvy advertisers who are able to work around the new reality of mobile advertising. The truth is, old-fashioned mobile advertising’s effectiveness was already waning. New techniques don’t just let brands quash the rise of the blockers - they can empower them to do even better than before. Here are a few solutions to bear in mind.

1. Go native

If the blockers are blocking, then block the blockers. Many brands have already begun producing their own editorial content, but ad blocking may necessitate a more concerted effort. After all, whilst ad blockers strip out standard display banners, they let through editorial, whether it comes from a brand or from ‘The New York Times’.

Consumers value reading or watching quality content far more than obvious, old-fashioned display ads. According to IPG Media Lab, native ads are viewed for as long as editorial content and are nearly twice as likely to be shared than a banner ad. It’s a good starting point.

2. Get interactive 

When simple brand advertising is blocked, consider pulling in consumers via media partners, with brand-sponsored promotions such as competitions or sweepstakes. Contests delivered with media partners are naturally white-listed to ad-blockers, since publishers’ editorial content is all allowed through the gate.

Leveraging media partnerships is key to driving engagement and revenue. AOL, Bauer Media and Mail Online run highly successful sweepstakes and quizzes across their portfolio of brands for advertisers, and well-managed competitions such as these can boost digital revenues by as much as 25%. Metro recently partnered with Jeep to launch a sweepstake photo contest that revealed, for Jeep, some useful consumer purchase intent data.

3. User-generated content

Increased consumer engagement is an important feature of today’s landscape. One in 10 consumers are submitting content to news websites or blogs. People want to create, and they want to show brands exactly what they think. That is an opportunity for media owners to pull in consumers, and for brands to do the same. 

Publishers like Huffington Post regularly create social hubs featuring reader opinions and reactions about specific topics or events, made possible with the help of brand sponsorship. During London Fashion Week last month, Bauer’s Grazia ran a campaign for fashion brand Marc Jacobs that aggregated social status updates and layered in tailored ecommerce calls to action.

Campaigns like these must deploy clear and specific invitations for user engagement - a big, blank “comments” box simply won’t cut it. For example, in Australia this year, McDonald's used a media partnership to offer Australian Open tennis tickets to the winners of a caption competition via the Yahoo!7 Sport site. It’s about going the extra mile to get people involved. 

4. Seize platforms on the second screen

While banner ads may be blocked, mobiles can still be used in conjunction with other media to maximise exposure.

Recent research from Nielsen found that 84% of TV viewers in the US use a tablet or smartphone whilst watching TV. And these days, technology exists to synchronise the delivery of real-time ads to TV and phone screens. It’s thought that the effectiveness of any ad campaign is multiplied when it is delivered via multiple channels in this way.

That’s why media owners wanting to maximise the impact of any editorial campaign will look to run these over multiple channels. From hashtag call-outs and photo contests to social media competitions and sweepstakes, brands can strike one relationship with multi-platform publishers to maximise the touchpoints in content, bypassing the blockers.

5. An opportunity to capture more data

These consumer-experience campaigns don’t just overcome the ad blocker-challenge, they create vast amounts of first-party data. After all, if brands flip their advertising outlook, consumers will comfortably offer up plenty of personal information. This creates new opportunities that standard display ads just didn’t afford. This kind of data can be mined for clues to indicate success, allowing it to play a vital role in future ad campaign targeting.

But, to benefit, advertisers should tag and categorise all their social media content, they must monitor for likes and comments, and they must quantify their share virality.

The truth is that advertisers now have the opportunity to engage with consumers in a much more meaningful way. Without ad-blocking techniques, the same lazy methods - that only really serve to annoy the consumer rather than engage them effectively - will persist, and the value of mobile advertising will continue to wane. 

Richard Jones

Richard Jones

Richard is the CEO at marketing engagement platform EngageSciences. 

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