Will Ad Blockers haunt digital marketers forever?

Ad blockers are to digital marketers what German U-boats were to Allied naval fleets – a hidden (and dangerous) nuisance that could derail otherwise perfect planning.

Unlike U-boats, though, you can’t really blame folks for using them.

This makes our perpetual conflict with ad blockers that much more difficult, because we know that users have been driven to this point by the less scrupulous in our industry. But what do the good guys – in other words, the marketers who don’t deploy intrusive, malicious ads – do to survive in the AdBlock Age?

Fight back now

Before we start discussing the future, let’s take a quick look at some of the tactics you can use right now to navigate this mine field.

The easiest tool at your disposal involves spending a little money: Paying AdBlock to whitelist your ads.

This service is not without controversy, but it does potentially mean a decrease in annoying, intrusive marketing. As Marketing Land points out, once you’ve paid them, AdBlock will happily allow yours ads “as long as they adhere to their quality guidelines.”

Secondly, there are always advertising channels that fall outside of an ad blocker’s purview. As Medium notes, these include native advertising and sponsored content, email marketing, and social media “influencer” marketing.

Changes on the horizon

But here’s what’s really exciting: The relationship between ads and ad blockers, like so much else in this industry, is evolving rapidly.

As Marketing Land reports, there are efforts underway at the Coalition for Better Ads “to slow down the demand for ad blockers.” These include educating advertisers about the user experience, and providing guidelines for marketing that doesn’t need to be “blocked.”

As vague as that may sound, the takeaway here is that the industry is working on it (and putting serious resources into solving the problem).

And then there’s Google’s new ad blocker. Despite some misgivings, it may actually be the first real step in making the internet a friendlier place – to both digital marketers and everyday users.

“The goal is not to remove all ads from websites, unlike popular apps like Adblocker Plus,” Upwork writes. “Google is fine with internet ads, and understands that they are an important part of the ecosystem.”

All the search giant asks is that those ads respect the user experience.

“That means (Google) will focus on banning the sort of ads that you probably find annoying, including pop-up ads, autoplay videos, weird sticky ads that follow you around, and more.”

The moral of the story

The upshot of this is that the status quo – where a not-insignificant 26 percent of consumers use ad blockers, often at the expense of our advertising budgets  – will not be the status quo forever. If ad blockers evolve, so can we – and we already have.

If you’re puzzling over how to avoid the pitfalls of ad blockers, we’d love to hear from you and talk strategy. Reach out to us today for a FREE consultation.

Declan Desmond