Ad blocking technology is not a new competitor to advertising. These technologies have been in existence since the early 2000s, but they weren’t quite as user friendly and adaptable as they are today. The user had to be very skilled with the technical side of the software because they would have to know exactly what to block and how to write the code to do so. Two years later, software was released that made ad blocking slightly more accessible to users by incorporating simple filters instead of manually coding the software themselves. In 2006, additional software was released that allowed developers to create code and then share it with the public. At this point, ad blocking was made available to people who didn’t have the technical skills of someone like a web developer. Ad blocking software was created to be universal at that point – all users had to do was download the software that was made available to them. This advancement allowed users to “whitelist” webpages so they could still be served ads but only on selected websites. As time went on and ads got more and more intrusive, users of ad blocking software inevitably sky rocketed.
But why is this so important to marketers?
There are now one billion people worldwide using ad blockers and research shows this is an extremely valuable audience who marketers need to be reaching. eye/o conducted research in January of 2018 that proves most people using ad blockers are a good target for marketers. Those who use ad blockers are:
- Highly educated with 34.7% of users having an advanced education
- Higher income earners with 38.6% of users earning $90,000 or more
- 80% more likely to make an online purchase and will even spend over $200 on an online purchase
- More likely to engage with the ads that they are shown
- More likely to make online purchases and more likely to purchase a product after seeing an ad
There are still an average of 80% of people in the world who are not using ad blockers. All of this being said, how are we, as marketers and advertisers, supposed to reach the remaining 20% that do? As professionals in the industry, we really have just a few options:
- Publishers can refuse user entry to their websites if they detect an ad blocking software on the user’s device
- Web browsers can adopt the standards that the Coalition for Better Ads created in order to encourage a more user friendly environment. They do this by blocking the most intrusive ad types while still serving ads that fall in line with their standards. This does not apply to just users with ad blockers but all online users – the 80% and the 20%.
- A 3rd party, Acceptable Ads Committee, is working to approve ad types that they believe a user would be more willing to accept. They have found that users with ad blockers are okay with seeing ads that are transparently labeled as an ad, ads that do not cover up content and are not embedded into the middle of page content.
- Another new concept is to incentivize users to see ads by paying them a portion of the CPM that publishers and ad networks receive. Companies like AdSwapper install software that blocks ads that don’t agree to financially incentivize users who are exposed to the ads.
At the end of the day, users are not going to just uninstall their ad blockers with no industry change. However, 63% of users with the ad blocking software installed are actually open to seeing advertisements as long as they are not too intrusive. The point is, you can still market to this valuable audience even though they are using ad blockers by being diligent about the ad types you are promoting.