Many of the world’s largest media publications, such as the New York Times and The Guardian, rely heavily on revenue from sponsored advertising. Historically, users have tolerated the practice in exchange for access to content. However in recent years, the emergence of ad-blocking software has given consumers a new found power: the ability to disable often frustrating and intrusive ads. Alongside removing ads that sometimes impair the user experience, ad-blockers have contributed toward a negative impact on the bottom line of content publishers. This challenge has lead to some creative solutions on the part of publishers. For example, a recent study conducted by the IAB demonstrated that users could be convinced to uninstall ad-blocking software by the use of pop-up messages which draw attention to the impact ad-blockers have on content development funding.
An example message trialed by the IAB in a recent study
On the flip side, for agencies, ad-buyers and marketers the emerging threat of ad blockers often seems like an issue that is far from likely to impact from the day-to-day effectiveness of digital campaigns. In fact, only 37% of marketing professionals in a recent survey indicated concern around the practice. Nonetheless, with a large portion of desirable inventory now susceptible to ad-blocking, the effects of ad-blocking are already impacting campaigns. eMarketer predicts that around 30% of users will employ some form of ad-blocking software by 2018.
For industries such as travel, a segment of advertisers highly reliant on online advertising, ad-blocking doesn’t just impact acquisition and retargeting efforts but also attribution modeling with reports of wide discrepancy between different products for attribution reporting on some travel sites, likely as a result of blockers preventing cookies from loading in users browsers.
With the adoption of ad-blocking software showing no signs of slowing, marketers need to consider the future impacts on acquisition and retargeting campaigns. As part of this process specific attention should be given to best optimizing sites and landing pages for conversions on the first visit. Immediate conversion reduces dependence on what may end up being, increasingly restricted reach through advertising networks.
Conversion optimization testing can not only optimize purchases and lead-conversions, but also drive ‘micro-conversions’, lower-commitment activities on websites, such as signing up for a newsletter or deal alerts. Micro-conversions can assist marketers in pushing users through the digital funnel by means of other channels such as e-mail.
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