What you need to know about ad blockers now

24 Aug What you need to know about ad blockers now

It used to be easy.

Remember a time before ad blockers, even before technology? Your media company presented compelling, useful, local information. That attracted a desirable audience. You sold access to that desirable audience to advertisers. People responded to the ads. You sold more ads. It was a beautiful thing.

Then technology blew apart everything.

Your audience and everyone else’s found they could type a search term into “The Google” and get access to useful, often local information. Sometimes it came from you. Sometimes from others. Advertisers became harder to attract.

Now technology is making your job even more difficult.

According to eMarketer ad blocking in the U.S. will increase to 25 percent of internet users this year. eMarketer predicts the number of blockers will grow by 24 percent in 2017 to 86.6 million people.

“Ad blocking is a detriment to the entire advertising ecosystem, affecting mostly publishers, but also marketers, agencies and others whose businesses depend on ad revenue,” said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna. “The best way for the industry to tackle this problem is to deliver compelling ad experiences that consumers won’t want to block.”

211913The research firm Ovum estimates that ad blocking will cost publishers $35.3 billion in revenue by 2020. That’s if the industry takes corrective measures. The cost could be as much as $78.2 billion if publishers don’t take corrective action.

Essentially ad blockers work by looking for a URL that differs from the main URL for the media company presenting the content. So, if you use an ad server to present your online ads that differs from your editorial content server. Most of us do this so it’s easy for the ad blocker to vanquish anything that is not from your site’s URL.

The problem is obvious. Advertisers want to use ad servers so that they can better target consumers, but ad blockers reduce clicks and impressions. Most digital publishers base their ad rates on impressions or clicks.

Impression pricing always has been a flawed strategy. There are only so many clicks and impressions any site can command without resorting to the lowest common denominator clickbait. Low value clickbait ruins the quality and reputation of the site. Ultimately that leads to a downward spiral of declining site visits and dwindling advertiser confidence.

Compelling Content is the Answer

Enter sponsored content, also known as native advertising, as the possible solution because:

  1. You sell value rather than impressions
  2. Ad blockers don’t block sponsored content because it is presented by your editorial server (if the content is shown in your newsfeed)
  3. Many customers actually say they appreciate (good) sponsored content

That’s why sponsored content was a $4.3 billion market in 2015. It is expected to top $8.8 billion in business by 2018, according to Statista. Some estimates put the growth rate even higher.

It’s funny how things often go full circle. The answer to the ad blockers, to sagging traffic and low audience engagement, and to flagging advertiser support is content. Not regular content but content that grabs people by the lapels and sucks them in.

Unfortunately, great storytelling has become a lost art for many local media companies as they cut costs and eliminate staff in these tough times. Still it is, as it always has been, something to which we all should aspire.

If the storytelling is compelling — no matter what the subject is or what format it takes — readers, site visitors and target consumers will engage with you. For example, who knew globes could be so interesting: