Ryan Stoner | Brand Strategist

Advertisers risk a growing backlash if they don’t get more entertaining and less invasive. We should be focusing on building relationships with customers, rather than frustrating or destructive methods seeking to optimize on real-time results. To date, the impact of ad-blockers has been relatively limited, but ad-block users are an ever increasing audience segment. A segment that advertisers need to find new ways to engage with, since we can’t use the traditional digital channels.

The simple answer is: just do more quality advertising – better ad formats, better creative, and cap the number of ads so display advertising isn’t obtrusive.

The long-term answer is: we can’t act like door-to-door salesman, pushing things into consumers faces online. No one likes to feel as though they are under attack by advertisers. We need to win them back with ads that make them smile and deliver real value.

If you use Ghostery or Adblock plus, you’ve probably seen an increasing number of publishers like Forbes forcing visitors to disable ad-blockers in order to be able to read their content. Websites that are dependent on ad revenue (pretty much all of them) can’t survive if 60-80% of readers are using ad-blockers. If ad-blockers are going to become the norm, the only alternative is for publishers is to create subscription sites, which is what new sites like the ‘The Information’ are doing, or TruInk with their experiential events. The loss of revenue due to ad-blockers in the US has ballooned to over 11 billion yearly, and many are predicting that it could eventually reach $40 billion. This is a HUGE problem for publishers, and for advertisers it means we need to find new ways to reach millennials online. But there is hope!

The good news is that ad-block users are actually more likely than average to be paying for digital content, making people who use ad-blockers a much more valuable consumer – they are likely to be tech savvy and in the “millennial” age range advertisers want to reach. More than half of these users are likely to disable blockers in exchange for quality content. By working directly with publishers, we can give them what they want and create new ad formats that do a better job of engaging -rather than intruding- in their space or media.

We should be taking a long-term view of both publishers and consumers, weighing their lifetime value, and building relationships rather than seeking to maximize results that may not even translate into real gain for the brands being advertised.

No one likes to feel like they are under attack by advertisers trying to win them over. We need to be in the game of seducing them with sexy and relevant content. If we act like aggressive door-to-door salesman, we’ll just get the door slammed on us.

Starting today, brands should assess whether their target audience over-indexes for use of ad blockers – and which specific channels are particularly impacted. The future, however, of advertising is going to be about creating ads that make people smile, and we need to get back to that. Build brands people love by being bold and authentic.

With all that in mind here are 4 strategies for creative advertising agencies to win over the growing ad-blocking audience segment:

  1. Build better ads & premium quality advertising – the formats that blocking users are most willing to tolerate are text, image, and skippable video pre-roll.
  2. Use contextual targeting to offer more relevant advertising. Since cookies have been disabled for any consumer using an ad-blocker, ‘below the line’ remessaging opportunities are pretty much useless. So the new opportunity for us becomes working hand-in-hand with publishers to create content that is contextually relevant to the web page our ads are served on. So if someone is reading about travel, your ads should be about how your brand can enable a better travel experience.
  3. Become better content creators. The vast majority of people online want to learn about products through content: reviews, videos, podcasts, and mediums that offer more than just “buy this now” advertising. Content needs to be original and sharable to influence culture and connect with consumers in a meaningful way.
  4. Focus on ‘wowing’ your customers. Develop advertising experiences that are relevant and useful for users, ensuring that users have a choice over their ad experiences online, and helping publishers continue to fund their content.