Ad-blocking – How Brands Get Users to Watch Ads

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released the “Ad Blocking: Who Blocks Ads, Why, and How to Win Them Back,” research report. The study was conducted by C3Research, which surveyed 1300 computer users and 201 mobile users in the U.S.A., and includes a mix of users that block ads and those who don’t.

The study found that consumers are most annoyed by advertisements that delay or obscure website content. Long video ads that precede short videos are the next most irritating, followed by advertisements that travel with website visitors as they scroll down. Men aged 18-34 are the main ad-blocking demographic.

How can brands get users to turn off ad-blockers?

Brands have found tactics that are persuasive to get visitors to run off ad-blockers. Some of these include:

  • Placing a notice stating that content is blocked because of the use of an ad blocker
  • Disable auto-play on pages where consumers do not anticipate ads
  • Ensuring ads do not block content
  • Providing peace-of-mind that ads do not have malware
  • Guarantees that ads do not affect website performance and speed

“We messed up,” the IAB admits. “As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience.” The IAB acknowledges that the established principles guiding digital advertising strategy was wrong. In an effort to maximize margins, these strategies alienated consumers. Loyalty and confidence was lost. Advertising was too disruptive, too long, and the user experience was neglected.

“The rise of ad blocking poses a threat to the internet and could potentially drive users to an enclosed platform world dominated by a few companies,” a real threat to digital advertising. To combat these threats, IAB established LEAN (Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ads) principles that will help guide the next phases of advertising standards for digital advertising.

Impact of LEAN principles on digital advertising

The C3Research study notes: respondents state that adoption of LEAN principles would have the greatest influence in getting them to turn off ad-blockers. The 18-34 male demographic, the ones most prone to using ad-blockers, are the most inclined to turn off ad-blockers if brands use LEAN principles. A good user experience is fundamental in creating consumer loyalty.

A whitepaper created in partnership with Kargo and Refinery29 conducted a study and found the user experience needs to be improved in digital marketing. Randall Rothenberg, CEO of IAB states: “Brand stories can more effectively reach today’s audiences when they are crafted within great user experiences. It is imperative that ad creatives, brand marketers, publishers, and technologists realize that they must join forces to engage consumers in digital in new ways.”

Advertising is interruption, and is, in many cases, unavoidable. As consumers adopt ad-blockers they pose a real threat to brands and their digital strategy. Adhering to LEAN principles, brands can create a better user experience and build consumer loyalty without sacrificing margins.


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