Digital State of the Union: The Rising Threat of Ad Blockers

man on computer downloading ad blockers Today more than ever, my conversations revolve less and less around the client’s digital marketing strategy and more often and more appropriately around their marketing strategy in a digital world. Digital, TV, radio and even out-of-home are all beginning to converge at the establishment of a new normal. But as technology and communication evolve, so do new challenges and focuses for marketers. The past year saw some significant leaps in the digital arena, and 2017 is slated for an even greater acceleration. In this brief blog series, let’s look back on five evolving digital trends from 2016 as well as take a peek at what will inevitably be on the horizon in the very near future.

The Rising Threat of Ad Blockers

Marketers’ demand for consumer attention has grown; while at the same time, consumers have been armed with the tools to avoid ads altogether. Estimates from comScore range that anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of all U.S. Internet users utilize an ad blocker on their desktop. eMarketer predicts that approximately 1 in 4 will install an ad blocker on either desktop or smartphone by the end of 2016, verging on 1 in 3 by 2017. What’s the leading demographic fueling this surge? Millennials. More specifically, millennial men, especially those with a higher income. stats about blockers in infographic There are three important considerations* driving these numbers:

  1. Publishers can be the biggest losers when it comes to ad blockers because an advertiser will not pay for an ad that is not shown (0 impressions = 0 cost). Some publishers have taken more drastic approaches to avoid mass losses from ad blockers, whereby the page content does not load until the user has disabled his or her ad blocking software. What a way to kill the web-browsing experience!
  2. From the advertiser’s perspective, it makes this particular demographic — technophiles, entertainment lovers and automotive junkies especially — increasingly difficult to target. Moving forward, more creative approaches for reaching millennial men will be necessary, leveraging newer platforms for advertisements.
  3. The greatest catalyst prompting users to install ad blockers is the category of disruptive ads. Pop-ups, high-impact, in-stream and video ads on both desktop and mobile devices are most commonly cited as unfavorable. The IAB has recently been making headway in disallowing certain types of disruptive ads from being run, which may or may not have an impact on slowing the pace of ad blocker installations. In any case, publishers and advertisers alike may benefit from avoiding sole usage of these formats — a varied marketing mix is often recommended for greater success.

With stats like these, is it any wonder that advertisers are rethinking how to capture consumers’ attention? This year, the next frontier in capturing consumers’ eyes will be ensuring website speed (both desktop AND mobile) is optimized. Twenty-seven percent of U.S. digital shoppers are unwilling to wait more than three seconds for a page to load, with only 38 percent sticking it out after five seconds. stats about website speed in infographic For advertisers and publishers who promote e-commerce or gauge success on quality traffic and time spent on site, website speed will be the highest priority in the coming year. Consumer attention spans are shortening and so must the page load times. To discover more in our Digital State of the Union, check out our upcoming posts on personalization and personal assistants, content and influencer marketing strategies, digital video best practices and programmatic pricing. *Ad Blockers, May 20, 2016 Digital State of the Union Series Digital State of the Union: From Personalization to Personal Assistants Digital State of the Union: Content Marketing Digital State of the Union: Streaming Digital Digital State of the Union: Digital Advertising Costs