The War On Advertising

I’m going to paint you two futures.

On the one hand, you have the ad world. All of the content online is free. You’re not ever caught having to pay for the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal because they make so much money from ads. But, your phone is constantly bombarded with push notifications for new products and services that you don’t really want, and every website you visit requires a few clicks to get to because of the pop ups between you and the content.

On the other hand, you have ad block’s world. You can use your phone and computer cleanly. Every video loads immediately, and every article or app looks clean and polished. Ad block kept you from dealing with all of those pesky advertisements. This all sounds great, right? It would, but all of the content you love? It’s hidden behind a pay wall. In ad block’s world, you’re paying a subscription for YouTube, ESPN, and all of your other favorite websites.

Consumers, myself included, groan in anguish over another page takeover while we’re trying to read an article on our phones. It’s because of this anguish that consumers are starting to fight back against the ads. Over the past year, the number of people blocking ads has gone up 48% according to Advertising Age.

With the recent release of iOS 9, this war is becoming even more evident. The top of the App Store is filled with Ad Blockers that Apple has given the ability to block mobile and internet ads on people’s phones.

We as advertisers stand at a crossroads for our mobile and digital placements. So what are we to do? Do we keep pushing our ads onto consumers and drive them to hate? I have a few thoughts.

One, I believe that this trend of ad blocking is just a market correction. Advertisers were probably beginning to push a few too many ads on consumers, and there was a push back. Digital and mobile advertising will continue, but it will need to be monitored by advertisers to avoid overusing them.

Two, advertisers need to be more creative with our uses of media. As ad blocking becomes more and more prevalent, we have to find other ways to reach our consumers in digital spaces whether that be through sponsoring content or creating microsites that really create value to our customers. A great example of this is Iams. They sponsored a Buzzfeed video called Puppyhood that linked people to a microsite that taught people how to train their dogs.

Third, consumers need to understand what ads do for them. They don’t just get in the way of getting to your article or video. They help keep that content-free. Think about it. Without ads, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and Buzzfeed couldn’t maintain a free content model.

Lastly, consumers and advertisers need to reach equilibrium. Consumers should understand that ads aren’t all bad, but advertisers need to realize that their ads shouldn’t constantly bombard people.

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