Why Adblocking’s A Wake-Up Call For The Industry 

Why Adblocking’s A Wake-Up Call For The Industry 
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Dissatisfied consumers are forcing advertising and marketing execs to overhaul their outdated strategies. In this opinion piece, Noah Abelson the CEO and co-founder of ShareRoot, a Silicon Valley-based marketing tech firm that’s listed on the ASX, argues that brands need to seriously re-think their marketing strategies.

The way users connect with brands is evolving rapidly. In an advertising landscape over-saturated with irrelevant content, consumers are increasingly using ad-blockers to escape the grim reality of boring advertising that means nothing to them.

With the mass consumer movement towards ad-blockers, brands must seriously re-think their marketing strategies. In my opinion, this isn’t a bad thing.

Necessity is a catalyst for change and dwindling ad revenues, tough consumers and the peak in ad-blocking software use means the industry’s in dire need of a necessary wake up call.

No longer can brands rely on pop-ups and banner ads. Some of the more innovative players have cottoned onto this and they’re introducing really creative strategies, like real estate site Domain’s recent launch of a messenger bot so consumers can view property information via Facebook messenger.

Similarly, Uber’s introduced “big bot” integration with Facebook messenger as a part of its mission to be “everywhere”.

Not traditional advertising by all means but brand omnipresence is arguably the best way to sell its service, so it’s an inventive and effective attempt. Unfortunately, we’re also seeing the opposite. Organisations threatened by the consumers’ push-back against traditional advertising are hastily adopting anti ad-blocking software, forcing consumers to view ads to access site content.

Internationally in France – Le Monde, L’Equipe, Le Parisien – and here in Australia – SBS Demand and Ten’s streaming sites -, a number of organisations will no longer allow consumers to view streaming content if they have ad-blockers in place.

This is a disappointing race to the bottom, where the only losers are the consumers. It will further alienate customers and that’s hardly a viable long-term solution. The widespread adoption of ad-blocking software – 55 per cent of millennials already use ad-blockers – should be sending a message: it’s time to change the ads, not punish consumers.

I’m not saying all brands should follow Uber and Domain’s lead, but they should certainly start to think outside the box when it comes to connecting with consumers.

In the media space, Buzzfeed and Junkee have banned display advertising. Both companies feature only native content advertising (for Junkee, this already made up more than half its revenue prior to its new ban on display) or user generated content (UGC).

For example, Junkee has previously launched a campaign in collaboration with Singapore Airlines that saw four aspiring writers travel overseas at the airline’s expense to write content for the site.

This shows an innovative flair. Given peers, family and friends outrank even bloggers and influencers as trusted sources of content, why not collaborate with the peers of your customers and use the outcome as advertising?

Yes, this is a creative example, but top-notch advertising and marketing that resonates with consumers doesn’t have to involve a partnership between a big name brand and a major publisher.

My company works in the UGC space and we’ve had some interesting findings. We provide a platform for businesses and brands to connect with consumers through which brands request access to users’ social posts and use them in marketing campaigns.

In perhaps the strongest demonstration of the potential of UGC, 50 per cent of contacted users permitted brands to use their content.

People actually want to engage with advertising that is relevant to them, i.e. produced by their peers, family or friends. According to Nielsen, 92 per cent of users trust recommendations from peers – it’s less intrusive and it’s tailored to interests.

It’s becoming clear that to keep up with today’s consumers, brands need to use UGC and other innovative strategies to retain consumers’ attention. But let’s not celebrate too soon, while it’s great to see brands connecting with consumers in new and novel ways, far too many are falling into the frustrating anti ad-blocking trap.

Organisations and brands are shooting themselves in the foot if they force consumers to view ads. With a huge range of options and a quick click of the mouse, fickle consumers can simply look elsewhere for content.

Instead, let’s push for the innovative strategies that empower consumers to contribute to more meaningful advertising and marketing content.

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