Dominic Trigg, SVP & MD Europe & emerging markets at Rocket Fuel, argues that the answer to ad blocking lies in ads that load faster, are less intrusive and more relevant.
Following the launch of iOS 9, Apple’s latest operating system, two content blockers have hit the top 20 paid apps in the UK. Purify is at number 11 and Peace is at number 12. Several more are likely to follow in the coming days and weeks. The popularity of the apps might suggest that mobile ad blocking - which has been enabled in Apple’s default Safari browser for users who have upgraded to iOS 9 - could possibly become more widespread than it is on desktop.
Currently, users have to actively install the software to make it work. The ad blocking in iOS 9 will only be available on the mobile web via Safari. At present it does not apply or impact ads in mobile apps, where according to Nielsen and comScore 90 per cent, of users spend most of their time. The apps, once activated, strip ads and tracking cookies out of the Safari browser on iPhones, but not other browsers, like Google’s Chrome, or within apps.
Marketers will spend almost $69bn (£44bn) this year on mobile ads — more than triple the sum they spent two years ago. Some ad-industry execs are concerned about the implications, while some optimistically believe that ad blocking technology will actually improve ad quality.
Clearly, the rise of ad blocking is concerning for web publishers, many of whom rely on display advertising for revenue. Many believe that there are the choices to be faced if ad blocking programs go mainstream, and that the rise of ad blocking could instead have a counter-productive effect. This is because advertising revenue underpins about 90 per cent of everything we see online – it is the internet's fundamental economic model.
The truth is that ad blocking has been available for Android phones for quite some time, and the world has not ended. While there has been much talk recently about ad blockers, the reality is that we are not witnessing any impact on the availability of ad impressions on exchanges. In fact, globally we have access to 80bn impressions a day and that is up from 50bn this time last year.
That said, things in this industry can change quickly, so we are monitoring the adoption of ad blocking technologies. The question is how prevalent will they become amongst consumers?
Proponents of ad blocking argue that advertising has become more intrusive, for example through the use of auto-play videos and pop-ups that impact the browsing experience. Bad ads are more noticeable and obnoxious on mobile, where bandwidth is already constrained, screens are small, and users often pay for internet access on a metered basis.
Learning about the market is essential for improving customer experience and creating value. It is important to use customer insights to drive improvements in the customer experience and to build a closer, more relevant relationship with customers. As an industry we should focus on making ad blocking a less important consideration for consumers, by creating ads that load faster, are less intrusive and are more relevant. This can made possible by utilising machine learning marketing technology, which continuously learns from data generated about an individual to determine how likely they are to respond to an ad based on the profile attributes that prove most successful in a campaign.
Dominic Trigg is SVP & MD Europe & emerging markets at Rocket Fuel