AdBlockalypse Nowhow adblocking can be an opportunity for B2B

Customer-centricity. That’s what we’re all striving for in B2B marketing, right? To stop thinking about what we need, and make sure that the customer has an easy and consistent experience at every touchpoint. So why don’t we apply the same rigor to digital advertising?     Digital adverts have an appalling reputation. They are often intrusive, poorly targeted, and deliberately interrupt the user experience on any device. And because of this, almost no-one looks forward to seeing adverts.   Click-through rates are already at rock bottom. We are almost 500 times more likely to survive a plane crash than we are to click on a web banner ad, and we ignore adverts and go straight to the content. So advertisers are in a constant battle to interrupt the flow of the user experience because intrusive adverts are the only ones that get seen.   This is the opposite of a customer-centric approach: doing whatever it takes to get clicks, even if it ruins user experience and alienates customers. But now marketers’ laziness is coming back to bite them, as internet users download adblockers in their droves.   Adblocking is an existential problem for digital advertisers. 200 million people worldwide use adblockers and that number is rising, so this isn’t about to go away. Internet users are saying unequivocally that they are tired of being rudely interrupted by advertisers – and this has a detrimental effect on websites who rely on advertising money to keep the lights on. So websites need a new cost model, and advertisers need a new way to contact cold prospects.   Many of the current solutions on the market seem to be focused on fulfilling the websites’ and advertisers’ needs. They might:  

  • Try to circumvent adblockers with new ad formats
  • Encourage users to disable adblockers in order to see content
  • Offer an ad-free subscription model

  But none of these solutions are ideal. The trouble is that many advertisers are asking the wrong question. It shouldn’t be, “How do we beat adblockers and get through to our audience?”; it should be, “How do we improve the user experience of advertising so there’s less demand for adblocking?”   B2B marketers are in a strong position to make this case. We’re much more used to targeted, highly relevant messaging to a small audience than B2C marketers, whose markets are much larger and demographically varied. Fortunately, some companies are starting to approach these issues:  

  • Facebook and Google now allow users to manage the data with which advertisers can target them
  • Brave, a new internet browser, gives users different tiers of advertising engagement options
  • Adblock Plus is moving to a system that favors ‘acceptable ads’, encouraging advertisers to be stricter on quality control

  By putting the power back into the hands of users and forcing advertisers to stop cutting corners, these options attempt to change the perception of advertising. It shouldn’t be a channel for brands to pester prospects, but a two-way dialogue where companies can interact with users in the format, tone, and topics they’re interested in. The solution to adblockers isn’t confrontational, it’s collaborative.   Although it might seem like a crisis, the adblocking phenomenon is actually a good thing for marketers – it will force us to find ways to improve, and put into practice the commitment to user experience and customer centricity we talk about so often.  

By Dan Squire | September 20, 2016

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