The fall of 2015 ushered in a new era of advertising where consumers now have the ability to block digital advertising. Apple made this a reality when it released the new iOS 9 platform in September, and court battles have been raging ever since. As we’ve been tracking in our News updates, it remains to be seen whether ad blocking is here to stay or how technologies and marketing will adapt. Advertising blocking is projected to cost publishers $22 billion in advertising revenue this year. The move was made by Apple to appease consumers who have become annoyed with digital ads and interruptions. This means brand awareness is no longer a substantial effect of online advertising and that the strategy behind it must be much more effective. We have to assume that ad blocking is here to stay for the foreseeable future and that iPhone/smartphone apps for this purpose will continue to multiply. There are a few things marketers and advertisers should keep in mind in order to reach their audience and not get blocked…
- Provide valuable content – Such a small amount of digital advertising provides valuable content these days, blocking it is entirely justifiable. Marketers must demonstrate value in the ads otherwise they are pointless. Keep the ads simple but offer a price discount, new release date, seasonal promotion, etc. Use dynamic content that can’t be found on the general company website to make it worthwhile and feel important.
- Make the ads entertaining – The more engaging the ad, the more likely the viewer is to read it and click on it. An appealing design or dynamic presentation with animation, intriguing visuals and/or clever phrases combined with valuable content go a long way in keeping the ad from getting blocked and the marketing message received.
- Tailor the message – Generic ads are annoying and extremely intrusive to a consumer’s online experience. The message must be tailored to something of personal interest. Opinions vary on how tailored the message should be. I personally believe consumers are sick of having their personal data thrown all over the internet and don’t want a very pinpointed big brother-type message. But tailor the ad to your target audience based on age group, buying preferences, location, etc. If you have a list from a local comic convention, craft a specific message about new super hero merchandise. If your company is releasing new seismic tools, geo-locate the ad to those living or working in the Energy Corridor.
- Call to action – This has been a long-standing rule for advertising and email marketing. Make sure you encourage viewers with a call to action in the ad. If it looks great but doesn’t ask them to do anything, then they’re not going to click and will likely block the ad next time. Irrelevance is annoying. Make sure the ad is designed with a clear button to click, or with clear text telling them what to do.
Advertising in the online marketplace is intrusive no matter what. Now that consumers have the upper hand with blocking tools, it’s more important than ever to have a thoughtful strategy behind digital marketing. This new era of advertising will continue to ebb and flow but the right blend of content and design will help keep ads relevant and read.