Let’s play a word-association game. When one thinks of online ads, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? “Disruptive” and “downright annoying” are just some of the more pleasant words used by disgruntled Internet surfers. The rest I’ll leave to your imagination.
Website publishers are no longer the cool kids on the block because of the poor quality of ads they deliver. No matter how valuable and insightful your article may be, when readers are hit with in-your-face ads, they’re left with a bad taste in their mouths. It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple equation of one plus one: if you bombard your loyal users with ads when they’re simply trying to have an uninterrupted and enjoyable read, it’s unrealistic to expect any recurring visits. People feel as though they are pushed into a corner with no other choice but to download an ad-blocking software to fend off those pesky ads.
I myself am part of the 198 million people who surf the web using ad-blocking software. Up until now, ad blocking has caused companies worldwide to lose almost $22 billion in advertising revenue. Moreover, ad blocking has increased by 41 percent across the world in the past year alone. It’s a lot to take in all at once, but these facts can make any advertiser or publisher tremble.
Besides the obvious fear, publishers are making a big commotion and protesting the injustice of it all. From an objective standpoint, is it really fair that users can surf the web, read costly content for free and install a third party software to eliminate all the ads from the sites they use?
Publishers need to find and make use of new distribution and publishing models in order to get over this hump. If the music industry can recover from the free streaming drama, then advertisers can overcome ad blocking.
If you can’t beat them, join them — or find innovative counteractive solutions.
1. Go Native
Native advertising helps brands and publishers overcome “banner blindness.” In other words, people may recognize these ad formats but can easily ignore them, as they’re not intrusive. Publishers have started to take advantage of native ads with interactive content in the form of online quizzes, polls or infographics. It’s a remarkable way to engage users and direct their attention toward your ad. You can tailor these type of ads to match the site’s content. In this way, they come across unintrusive and at the same time, they also enhance a user’s experience. Take, for example, when Huffington Post embedded an interactive quiz into their article, “Pope Francis Quiz: 19 Questions To Test Your Knowledge,” powered by Apester’s digital platform. If fellow publishers follow suit, they’d be able to get over the ad-blocking problem the Internet is enduring.
2. Pay Up
Although this may feel like you’re admitting defeat and succumbing to their demands, it’s an option to take into account. According to the Financial Times, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have paid AdBlock Plus to stop blocking ads on their sites. Sounds like hush money, but publishers then don’t have to worry about ads being blocked.
3. Ad Blocker Police
And behind door No. 3, we have the harshest option. Publishers can refuse people from checking out their content if they have enabled an ad blocker. Instead, they’ll find a message letting them know that due to their ad block software, they cannot view the page. Although this may seem as a gleaming possibility, content blocking will place your publication in a less favorable position with your audience and damage relationships. In addition, it won’t work if your content isn’t unique and can be found on other sites that won’t punish ad blockers. Since it’s a lose-lose situation, try making this your final resort if all else fails.
It would be a shame if publications started going out of business because they refused to budge. The solutions I’ve suggested are only a taste of what’s out there. As a publisher, try not think of it as a defeat, but rather a marriage of the two worlds from which everyone can benefit.