Ad blockers are growing in popularity. What’s not known by most businesses is whether it’s impacting on the effectiveness of their online ad spend.
The main purpose of an ad blocker is to stop annoying ads that are irrelevant and slow down your browsing from appearing as you move about different websites.
More than 200 million people have downloaded an ad blocker to their browser, and this number is continuing to grow. However, what’s not talked about much is that they also block other content or functionality from working on a website. For example, Google Analytic tags can be blocked from firing and sending your user data back to your account so you know what’s going on with your online business, as well as social media share buttons.
The other little spoken about fact, is that while some display and search ads are blocked from displaying, from an ad serving perspective, they are still being served – and you the buyer of that ad are being charged for the ‘view’. Not surprising that the advertisers like Google are suspiciously silent on the topic.
Depending on which ad blocker you’re using, and there are many, it’s not just display ads, but Google search ads, Facebook ads, Youtube, Amazon ads, HelloBar, Gravatar and on it goes.
Another galling side to this story of the ad blocker, is that the companies that offer the ad blocking services are quietly approaching large corporations like Twitter, Facebook etc and offering them an ‘acceptable ad deal’ where if they pay the agreed amount, they may let their ads be displayed. What’s wrong with this picture is that the ad blocker companies are holding these large companies to ransom to conform to what they dictate as the standard in advertising. They are also misleading users of their ad blocking services because not all ads are blocked - just those that can’t afford to pay to have their ads displayed. Some of the ad blocking companies do allow users to dictate which ads are seen, but you need to go searching for the settings to change these – so you may still be served ads if they deem them acceptable (ie. The right price has been paid). The third point is that it's once again favouring the big corporates, creating a monopoly for those businesses that can afford to pay to have their ads displayed versus the small business owner who doesn’t have the same pocket book of cash.
Measuring the impact
While the full impact of these ad blockers has not yet been established, one thing is for sure. Change is very likely to emerge as a result.
From a user perspective, the interwebs are largely built from ad revenue that allows you to access free content and resources. Without the ad revenue, another model to pay for it is needed.
On the flip side, if you’re in business and want to get the word out about your ‘thing’, being able to pay to promote allows you to generate business. It seems like a win-win situation.
But Ad blockers threaten this. In more ways that you realise. For those of you that currently have a paid digital campaign in play or rely on this activity to drive leads and sales, it’s possible that you’re paying for ads that never actually get seen by your intended audience.
Or for others, it may never be an issue. The fact is that this is a trend that is still emerging and it’s better to be on the front foot and understand the impact rather than wait for it to hit you unawares.
In the meantime, if you’re in this situation what can you do about it? This is an evolving discussion and there are no clear solutions or outcomes as yet, however in the meantime, there is a simple two-step process you can take to understand if you are being impacted and to what degree.
1. Check the impact ad blockers are having on your paid campaign activity. Page Fair have built a tool to help you quantify what the monetary impact might be https://pagefair.com/
2. Download and install a few ad blockers and run them over your digital assets and campaign activity. Identify exactly what’s being blocked and what’s not.
Once you’ve got a feel for how it’s impacting on your activity, work out a strategy to redirect your ad spend to those channels/ platforms/ format that are not being blocked. There are also other tactics that you can employ that don’t employ paid advertising but focus more on targeting your audience with experiences and content. The key is, keep reviewing, understanding and evolving your approach to online so that you’re on an upward trajectory with sales.