Patrick Hopf, president and co-founder of SourceKnowledge, looks on the positive side of ad blocking's rise on mobile.
As global smartphone penetration exceeds 2.5bn, the issues facing advertisers on mobile platforms continue to evolve – not least of all, the issue of ad blocking.
Marketers need to stop thinking of ad blocking as a roadblock in the customer journey. Rather, we should consider it a symptom of poor user experience, and users taking a stance against the way that advertisers are attempting to reach them.
Ad blocking has empowered users to decide that they no longer want to be bombarded with repetitive advertising and are screaming to advertisers to change the way they communicate to their audiences. Although mobile only accounts for a small percentage of the overall blocking rates (2.24 per cent on Android and 1.33 per cent on iOS, according to Clarity Ray), mobile blocking is on the up.
25 per cent of smartphone users are now making use of ad blocking apps and browsers, and that number keeps on rising 90 per cent year-over-year. Therefore, it is important to understand how to communicate with users across mobile platforms in order to keep them engaged and not get blocked out.
Mobile possesses limitless opportunity
It is critical to question why marketers choose to advertise on mobile versus other channels, and what makes users exhibit unique behaviors. Firstly, mobile devices are more personal than other channels since users have an emotional attachment to them. Other media, such as TV or desktop, are mostly shared devices between two or more people, or even an entire household. This makes addressability extremely difficult, and attachment to the channel insignificant.
This explains why TV ads are created to be more generic. With mobile, marketers have the power and luxury to access non-PII (Personally Identifiable Information) data to create a picture of who they truly are. From a single thumbprint on an iOS device, customers are able to send an email, or make a purchase with their credit card. Mobile is unique among channels not just because of personalisation, but also because of the low friction point in terms of conversion.
Compared to traditional forms of advertising that focus on awareness as their primary objective, most campaigns on mobile are transactional, such as advocating for the install of an app or purchases within an app or on a mobile website. With this in mind, is the goal on mobile just to push a single behavior? Clearly not.
Long-term behaviour is more important in terms of customer lifetime value in order to continue to create interactions with current and new customers. The big question and challenge that most marketers face is, how to go about creating the ongoing interaction with their brand and their customers?
The answer is simple. It all boils down to user experience.
Don't annoy your customers
Think of when you are watching live TV and the same two commercials have been on repeat during every single break for the past hour. What happens? You get annoyed and it creates a negative connotation towards not only that commercial but that brand.
Many would agree that this is a perfect example of bad user experience due to an aggressive advertising strategy. Now, think of a flashy pop-up ad that appears when you enter a website, or a flashy unappealing banner ad. These are the types of ads that users are trying to move away from.
It has been shown that 42 per cent of ad blocking users have found some ads to be interesting or helpful, but there are an overwhelming amount of ads being served. 51 per cent of ad blocking users claim that the reason they install an ad blocker is because of a few websites, in particular, that have annoying ads, leaving them with the conclusion that it is worth getting rid of advertisements all-together in order to avoid these situations. So, what is the point of investing in bad user experiences, when ultimately they cause ads to be less effective and have poorer outcomes?
Make them want to see your ad
The truth is, people love ads and brands when they are properly executed and addressable. Users understand that publishers need ad revenue to operate, and 68 per cent of users do not mind seeing ads - as long as they are not invasive or irritating. Consumers have always appreciated quality advertisements that have pulled a heartstring, made them laugh or provided them with a solution to a problem they have.
These type of ads make them feel as though the brand understands them and is working to create a two-way relationship. In return, marketers must go the extra-mile by creating personalized advertising that speaks directly to their target customer. That first involves understanding a customer’s preferences. How can marketers do this? With mobile technology, it has never been easier to find the data that you need from your customers, and, most importantly, you are able to understand their behavior.
The proof is out there -- abrasive ads perform worse than those that are curated and properly targeted. Marketers need to get creative and start using advertising that adheres to UX best practices when creating mobile advertising strategies. By following this, marketers can create a sustainable user acquisition strategy that doesn’t leave users with no other choice but to adopt ad blockers.
Patrick Hopf is president and co-founder as SourceKnowledge