By Published On: February 2, 2016

The internet is a digital jungle. Consumers venture in for various reasons – to read up on the latest news, find a new winter jacket or book their next vacation. While navigating the Web, users are presented with banners. This is how the internet has worked for years, but ad-blocking software and hardware is rapidly changing the digital landscape – making it harder to reach audiences by completely shutting out marketers, advertisers and even publishers.

This may not seem like a new problem because pop-up blockers have been around since dial-up internet. What is new though, is that as the average consumer becomes more technologically savvy, they will download add-ons that block all ads at a more aggressive rate. They may even go as far as purchasing hardware to do so.

Why are consumers downloading products like ad-blocking software at staggering rates? There are actually a few reasons:

  • Data Caps – Data caps have been implemented for mobile data for a very long time, and the mobile ads pushed can take up data that the consumer may not have.
  • Reduced Speed – Ads can be as simple or as complicated as we want. Those complicated ads can take more processing power that may slow the loading of a website. This makes it irritating for a consumer to access the site altogether.
  • Misleading – Some ads are pure trickery to the consumer. As “click-bait” they show an image that looks like the button to go to the next page of an article. When the consumer clicks on it they are brought to an entirely different page.
  • Sheer Volume – They are everywhere and not necessarily relevant.

This is an important issue – not just for advertisers, marketers and publishers – but to consumers as well. If everyone blocks ads, as advertisers and marketers we can’t reach our intended audience with relevant content. Publishers can’t generate revenue for unseen ads. Consumers can’t get “free” content without having ads pay for the free content. Recently, AdWeek came out with an infographic compiling views that Sourcepoint (a content compensation platform provider) has aggregated from publishers showing that nearly 60% of those surveyed view ad blocking as a threat.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a statement in October saying that during the last several years, we have “lost sight of our social and ethical responsibility”. In addition to the statement, IAB is working to roll out “L.E.A.N.” (Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive) ads. They’ve also requested that advertisers do a better job not to aggravate consumers. However, these measures may not stymie the downloading of ad blockers. It may fall to publishers to explain why they depend on ads, such as Ars Technica did in a 2010 article.

It’s time to realize that the blitz of ads has pushed consumers farther away. It hasn’t done any favors to the industry or to the clients we serve. Publishers will play the largest roll in deciding the fate of online ads. Content could be hidden from users employing ad blockers, or publishers may try to educate their audience about the impact ad blocking may have on their ability to provide content. The blocking won’t stop, so it’s more important than ever to try and rebuild the trust that the industry has lost with consumers.

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
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