Ad blockers: huge problem or no big deal?

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The elephant in the room

Mobile ad blocking has become a hot discussion topic, and the elephant in the room for mobile ad providers. Does ad blocking pose a real problem, or are we making a big deal out of nothing?

The facts, and the loopholes

Both Apple’s app store and Google Play for Android users offer app downloads promising to block ads when internet browsing. While such add-ons do function properly for mobile internet browsing, we still see, for example, sponsored posts on the Facebook app, meaning that the advertiser-consumer connection is not entirely cut. Mobile usage trends have again been confirmed by a recent Nielsen study, smartphone user behavior is focused more on apps than using the mobile web. Any ads appearing in-app, where mobile users are spending the majority of their time, remain unscathed by ad blockers.

Likewise, branded content remains a hugely popular mobile marketing strategy immune to ad blocker triggers. This concept is particularly seen with the growing industry of brand influencers (social media stars who are promoting products to their fan base inside their social presence).

What’s more, according to PageFair’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report, in partnership with Adobe, mobile ad blocking remains greatly underdeveloped, and MarketingLand shows there is, on average, relatively low download volume for ad blocking apps. Further, ComScore studies show that apps account for 7 or every 8 minutes spent on a mobile device. So what does this mean? Some ads viewed on the rare occasion that the user is using a mobile device as an internet browser are effectively blocked given that the user has previously downloaded a little known ad-blocking application. We’re no gamblers, but that is relatively slim odds. For everyone without ad-blocker apps, and all users viewing ads directly via a mobile application, ads ring through crystal clear.

Scott Cunningham, general manager of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab states “We believe ad blocking is a concern, but there’s still a lot of opportunity that should be there for quite some time. While a lot of focus should be paid to the app environment, we absolutely want to be able to address the browser world at the same time, and we want publishers to be able to monetize wherever consumers are consuming the content.”

In our experience, adblockers are mainly successful blocking ads which are not properly executed (not native, not inside apps etc) and that therefore have little relative impact to begin with. As the majority of mobile ad spend is focused on in-app ad space and not mobile web ads, it becomes clear that the industry is already well adapted to counteract much of the adblocker influence.

We should still keep in mind that internet usage is free thanks to such ads, and in a world where internet would be ad free, only a small elite would have access to such informational sources, dramatically increasing economic divide.

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