The Ad-Blocking Iceberg Is Coming

The Ad-Blocking Iceberg Is Coming

In this guest post, Digital Amplification & Trading Director for Ikon Communications, Dru Nho, puts his heart on his sleeve about the ongoing issue of ad-blocking, talks about why “online ads suck” and what this means for advertisers moving forward.

What’s the news?

Ad-Blocking. That’s the news. I get it. You don’t care. Viewability is hot right now. I mean, its not even at critical mass in Australia yet right? What only 12-15 per cent penetration? Out of 20 million users, that’s only two – three million? Drop in the ocean.

But don’t forget, that drop causes ripples…

What evidence? Let’s review the last few weeks…

1. ABP (Ad-Blocker Plus) – the world’s largest ad-blocker has audaciously attempted and somewhat failed to launch their own SSP offering. Ironically, they have named it the “Acceptable Ads Platform”. Now it seems they have even backflipped.

2. “The Coalition for Better Ads” – has been formed to battle the rise of ad-blocker usage. Sounding like a digital advertising version of the Avengers, it is supported by members including Google, Facebook, Unilever, Proctor & Gamle & GroupM. All lead by Nick Fury – the IAB.

3. IAB Australia Ad Blocking Taskforce – carrying on the trend of Marvel/DC (depending where your allegiance lies) themed groups, the IAB in Australia have created a taskforce where some of the Australia’s largest and influential agencies, vendors and tech partners in a forum to discuss the best strategy to deal with the up-rise in ad-blocking in Australia.

4. Bye-Bye IAB Rising Star.

Why is this happening?

Because right now, online ads suck.

Sorry. Too harsh. There are two main reasons:

1. Users find the ads annoying, non-relevant and essentially something which ruins their overall online browsing experience. In a study conducted by the IAB earlier this year they found that users wanted an “uninterrupted, quick browsing and a streamlined user experience”.

2. The value exchange. It is clear that in this day and age that the consumer is in complete control. The IAB found that “56 per cent of consumers surveyed were not aware that blocking ads meant that websites would lose revenue”. The Ying to our Yang.

What does this mean for advertisers?

Here are some numbers that should scare us all:

  • Globally, the number of people using ad blocking software grew by 41 per cent YOY.
  • The estimated loss of global revenue? $21.8 BILLION.
  • With the ability to block ads becoming an option on the new iOS 9, mobile is starting to get into the ad blocking game. Currently Firefox and Chrome lead the mobile space with 93 per cent share of mobile ad blocking.

The global figures are staggering. The local figures? Who knows. Currently the industry believe that the prevelance of ad-blocking is anywhere between 10-15 per cent. The monetary effect? Anyone’s guess.

Ok. Your next question: “So what can we do about it, and if it’s so low here, why should we care?”

Answer number 1: Educate yourself and engage not only your clients but also your partner agencies. Here are a few starters:

IAB Reports

  1. “Tech Lab Publisher Ad Blocking Primer”
  2. “Ad Blocking: Who Blocks Ads, Why & How to Win Them Back”
  3. “Ad Blocking User Experience Recommendations”
  4. “Australia Ad-Blocking Tool Kit 2016”

Page Fair Reports

1. “2015 the cost of ad blocking”

2. “Ad Blocking Goes Mobile”

Answer number 2: Because this iceberg is coming whether you like it or not.

Australia model ourselves so closely to our global brethren (US, Asia and Europe) for all other digital trends. Are we silly to think ad-blocking won’t be one of them either?

My Point of View

Rather than suggesting that we wait for further information or to monitor progress closely, it’s time for us to get our heads out of the sand and start steering this ship in the right direction. Perhaps the following is a good start:

  • Get it on the radar. Engage not only clients, but also your creative partners and publishers. Habits are easily broken. It is an industry issue and it affects us all.
  • Measure, review and repeat. Being the most accountable and measurable media channel means that there are no excuses to not use third party tools to measure and assess our ads. Whilst ‘ads-blocked’ is not a variable you can measure, we should be assessing the effectiveness and quality.
  • Apply some common sense. Whilst at times it can seem that common sense in our industry is not that common, let’s not forget that we are in fact – consumers. If you wouldn’t engage with an ad? Why would others?

The iceberg is ahead of us and we have the choice to either start thinking of a method to avoid it or end up like Jack and realise too late, only to end up sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Even though Rose clearly had enough space on that float, all she had to do was bloody move over but was being mad stubborn as hell.

There’s a lesson in there for all of us. #justsayin.


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