Rather than fear them, Adland should embrace ad blocking technology says Mike Hill and Dan Hitchcock in this combined opinion piece. Hill and Hitchcock – both from Sydney digital agency Holler – argue that (bad) banner ads have become so annoying that the technology’s inevitable.
B&T’s article last week reported that global usage of ad-blockers is set to climb over the 200 million mark.
According to a study from Adobe and Software Company Page Fair, this figure represents nearly $40 billion in lost revenue.That’s a very large drop in the advertising ocean. Enough to push Adland into a state of mild hysteria.
In Australia there are almost 4 million ad-blocker users, a figure that surpasses the number of Twitter users in the country. These numbers are inevitably set to surge with confirmation that Apple’s IOS 9 will allow ad-blocking apps on its devices.
So are we going to dust off our pitchforks and wage war against those evil ad-blockers, who have the audacity to assist those who don’t want their browsing experience routinely invaded by pop-up ads?
We all knew this day would come. Most of us are surprised it didn’t come sooner.
Our own industry has actually created ad blockers in the past—a nice effort by D&AD, which replaced rubbish ads with award-winning ones (oh the irony of blocking our own ads just to watch someone else’s).
Although we’re not quite doing cartwheels across the office at the news of banner ad’s impending demise, we can all probably admit that this is a step in the right direction for digital advertising.
Why? Because banner ads are annoying. We know it, and so does everyone else.
Consumers have grown increasingly tired of being subjected to a deluge of random or, even worse, targeted shitty ads that invade their screens and generally impinge on their browsing experience.
Ad blockers are the rational response, a silent protest by those who want to make their own choices about the information that they view online.
At recent innovation festival US Vlogger Casey Neistat neatly summed up the prevailing sentiment, “I f**king hate ads.”
It’s clear need to come up with a new way to tell stories and sell products that doesn’t annoy people. Just like we have always tried to do.
Neistat himself makes ads (under the guise of native content). His recent video for Nike, “Make It Count,” has received over 14 million views. He doesn’t really hate ads…he just hates the bad ones.
We in advertising are seemingly faced with two options: to prolong the life of banner ads or to acknowledge their time has come. Some in the industry will opt to play a game of ad-blocking cat and mouse, which will eventually prove an impossible task.
The second and most plausible option is that digital advertisers will be forced to produce better, more thought-provoking content in a different channel.
Digital publishers will move away from the monotonous age of the banner ad, and throw their energy and resources into something else.
Interestingly, the real problem here will be for Neistat and his fellow content creators. The very people who “f**king hate [bad] ads” are often supported by them, heavily reliant on impressions from pop-up banner ads to generate revenue from their blog, vlog or whatever else they’ve got going on.
The gap in the digital ecosystem left by banner ads can’t and won’t be filled by open briefs from Nike. Without banner ads, some content creators will go hungry and others will starve. Not Neistat, but someone.
Meanwhile, advertising will do what it always has: adapt and move to greener pastures…and create better experiences in the process. At least that’s what we intend to do.