There has been a lot written on this topic in the last year or so and to be honest, I have procrastinated writing about it for some time due to feeling truly conflicted on where I stand. However, after seeing an interesting partnership this week, I feel it’s time to bite the bullet.
Ad Blockers have taken rise particularly in the last 2 years. This is a clear action of consumers expressing their distaste for advertising and actively avoiding it. And lets be honest, in it’s purest form advertising is intrusive. Ad Blockers are programs or extensions that can installed on a web browser that remove advertising from the users digital experience. What is the impact of this on the advertising industry? I feel particularly conflicted given I have worked in advertising and have an ad blocker installed; I feel like I’m cheating on my own industry.
The collaboration that bought ad blockers to my attention this week was between Amnesty International and AdBlock. AdBlock allowed Amnesty International advertisements on March 12 to highlight World Day Against Cyber Censorship. This is a brilliant collaboration for a cause linked to the actions of the campaign that potentially resulted in higher reach for Amnesty International.
For the industry, Ad Blockers create challenges in reach of advertising. But we must respect the consumer or our advertising will have adverse effects for the brand. It does encourage creativity and likability in advertising as curiosity has been found to be the main reason a viewer will watch an ad on YouTube (rather than skipping it after the first 5 seconds). This means creatives must ignite interest in five sections to ensure viewing of the ad.
D&AD (the global association for creative advertising and design) developed a creative ad filter in 2015 which replaces annoying advertisements with creative, interesting (better) advertisements. In theory, this should result in higher reach for well designed ads, further motivation to create interesting, quality advertising.
I don’t think ad blockers are a bad thing for the industry, rather they are just another challenge in reaching the consumer. There are plenty of alternative channels to reach the consumer that are highly effective, provided the creative is suitable for the medium. Television still has huge reach; outdoor and radio are also viable options. I think it’s time to accept the challenge and create interesting, likeable advertising.