Shez Iqbal, head of UK & Ireland Publishers at Sublime Skinz, offers advice for publishers looking to combat the rise of ad blocking.
“We want to bombard our readers with flashy, intrusive ad formats that take over the entire browser”, said no digital publisher. Ever. So why are so many consumers still having to turn to ad blockers for refuge? With UK publishers facing a hit of around £3bn in revenue annually, publisher-consumer barriers, such as ad blocking, remain a concern across the industry today.
Until now, low ad block rates have deemed mobile a sure bet for publishers and advertisers. However, in 2018, mobile marketers can’t afford to be complacent. With almost three-quarters of Brits accessing the internet on the go each day, the adoption of mobile ad blocking software is steadily increasing.
A publisher’s mantra for engagement should be to understand the effect that different advertising methods can have on the reader, and tailor the delivery of content and advertising accordingly.
Surviving the adblockalypse
Before facing ad blockers head-on, publishers need to appreciate why it’s happening in the first place. Ad blocking is borne out of a direct user need to cut intrusive ads out of their browsing session, which is making the industry sit up and take stock of the consumer experience. Regardless of the quality of content provided, the presence of irrelevant, irritating ads renders the overall mobile viewing experience mediocre at best. At worst, the reader loses patience, as well as respect for the publication, and clicks onto the next-best read.
Mobile users are becoming increasingly frustrated by pop-ups (distracting them from on-page content), as well as pre-roll formats (forcing them to view an ad before they are able to click onto their desired content). Offering options for more engaging ad formats that enhance, rather than detract, from a mobile browsing session will help negate the need for ad blockers, allowing publishers to focus on monetising each and every ad impression.
Embracing engaging formats (and ditching the disruptive ones)
Traditional ad formats – such as static banners or pre-rolls – simply don’t cut it on mobile. In fact, a recent study revealed that almost 8 in 10 users ‘can’t stand’ ads that take over the whole screen. Some publishers are beginning to look towards HTML5 formats because they allow the user to engage with the ad at their leisure, without obscuring the original content. HTML5 technology also facilitates the delivery of rich media ads, which are proven to boost engagement and advertiser ROI compared to more traditional formats.
In such a cluttered marketplace, it can be tricky to cut through the noise and convey a story that will stick in the minds of today’s distracted consumer. All-too often, consumers are served snippets of a brand’s story that don’t necessarily tie up, making brand recall far less likely in the long term.
It can take time – even years – to build upon a brand’s story. For example, what are the first brand images that come to mind when you think of ad campaigns over the last few decades? A cheeky Gary Lineker, stealing Walkers’ crisps from children? Or perhaps patient, long-suffering children, asking Mum or Dad whether the Fairy Liquid bottle is empty yet? These are just two examples of enduring brand stories that still resonate with viewers today.
With an average of 3.5 devices in use along the path to purchase, delivering a seamless, sequential story across multiple platforms can prove a challenge. Tapping into user data, processes, such as campaign sequencing, can enable publishers to serve installments of a video campaign across multiple devices in the order they are most likely to be seen by the consumer, thus avoiding any repetitions or overlaps.
Programmatic creative can also be used to personalise ad content to an individual app or web browser, meaning users no longer need to endure generic ads. Mobile user data – such as location – plays a key role in delivering more opportunistic messaging according to geographical or temporal conditions of the moment; for example, showing an ad for sledges to those in the midst of a snow storm.
Sizing up the screen
When was the last time you rotated your phone to watch an ad? With the advent of social media and on-demand services, which are often delivered in a larger, vertical video format, more than seven in ten millennials have become accustomed to watching vertical video formats rather than reorienting their device to watch them horizontally. With this is mind, it’s important publishers and advertisers make sure their creatives are tailored to fit each screen, including mobile, and in the correct aspect, i.e. a comfortable 2:3 ratio rather than a standard square 1:1 ratio, to avoid the risk of cramming in too much information and losing core elements of the messaging as result.
As mobile media consumption increases, it’s important for publishers to explore the ad formats that best engage viewers before they turn to alternative measures such as ad blocking. Instead of seeking a standard format that fits all audiences, it’s time publishers and their partners worked towards monetising their mobile traffic through building high-impact, device-specific programmatic creatives. Creatives that manage the messaging by offering readers a truly tailored viewing experience – across mobile and beyond.