Sales and Marketing Software

Ad blocking: What is the future of advertising?

Way back in 1993, 30 million ordinary people in Britain tuned in to watch the final advert of the ‘Gold Blend Couple’ [YouTube video] series. This was nothing to do with coffee but because they loved the story. And handily for Gold Blend it all paid off too, because within 18 months of the launch of the series, sales had risen 20% and by the time the campaign ended, they were up 70%.

Advertising is a funny beast. Ultimately it can deliver one of two things: entertainment to support a brand – like the Gold Blend Couple or Lego Movie [YouTube video]. Or it can offer information people actually want to make better informed commercial decisions, based on their own unique needs. The problem, of course, is that most of the time it fails on both counts. And this is no more glaringly obvious than in the rapid rise of ad blockers.

And there is no denying tech is to blame for this development. Not only because the irksome pop-up-adverts are always online. But because online streaming allows us to view content with such total freedom that today we seek out exactly what we want to consume… and our expectations are enormous. This makes an annoying 20 seconds of rubbish totally unviable.

Personally, I think the rise of ad blocking heralds an even greater divide between useful information, which absolutely has to be targeted, and the brand sponsored stories, which absolutely have to be interesting and well put together. This means there will be more fiction – I’ve been banging on about this for years – and more data personalisation. While the great chasm of dross in the middle will be forced to die a death. That is just my view though…

So, in the wake of all the hype around ad blockers. We crowdsourced a varied range of opinion, in answer to the simple question: “There is so much hype about ad blockers - what is the future of advertising?” The most pertinent responses are listed below:


Globally, 215 million people are already making their feelings known

Ad blocking software has been available for a number of years, but only in the past year has it really picked up momentum. Today, over 215 million people use the software. What’s more, new versions of Apple’s iOS allow users to download apps that block ads in their mobile browsers – another sting for online advertisers.

Laura England, Account Executive at technical PR agency Stone Junction


Maybe 2015 heralds the brink of big change
Things are going to change. And rightly so. The mainstream arrival of ad blockers has seen consumers drag this £8bn+ [$12bn in the UK, $600bn globally] industry into the future with gritted teeth.

Matt Meckes, Technical Director at Cohaesus


Behemoths like Apple can really force any issue

The introduction of content blockers by Apple is likely to force companies to keep the users front-of-mind in their digital marketing strategies. 

Chris Bush, Head of User Experience at digital UX agency, Sigma


You can never underestimate the power of Apple

With the release of iOS9, Apple has seemingly opened the floodgates for developers to create, and users to download, mobile ad blockers. This move could severely impact the revenue models of organisations that heavily rely on online advertising. 

Richard Lack, Director of Sales EMEA, at Gigya


Ad blocking itself can be counterintuitive to consumers

We still see lots of untargeted, impersonal ads around, and some aggressive techniques that annoy people, so we understand why ad blocking has become more prominent. Sadly some current ad blockers also cut off tools like Google Analytics that we use to understand our customers better, and to improve the experience we give them.

Dan Barker, CMO, navabi


The medium is irrelevant, now only quality counts
Advertising is in constant flux, from billboards and newspaper ads to radio, cinema, TV, eventually online (and mobile) banners, email, pay-per-click, pop-ups – the one type of advertising that is always going to defeat the ad blockers, and spam filters is compelling content, be it through podcasts, text or video. 

Ronan Gruenbaum, Associate Dean, Hult International Business School


No more foisting – consumers must actually seek this stuff out

Brands need to create compelling original content with real people, which users actively seek out and watch - rather than the traditional and unhealthy reliance on a forced few seconds before the viewer clicks the ‘Skip Ad’ button.

Aziz Musa, CEO of Forbidden Technologies and Co-founder of eva, the video social network


The rise of “influence consultants”

New models must evolve that incorporate rich, custom-created content for advertisers and marketers that not only resonates with their target audiences, but is surgically targeted them at the right time, in the right location. Agencies must become ‘influence consultants’ first, and advertisers second.

Duncan McKean, Associate Director at CCgroup


“Unadvertising” means the end of interruption

Advertising was fundamentally based on interruption. Ad-breaks in the middle of your favourite programme, print-ads in the middle of the articles you are reading, radio-ads in the middle of your favourite songs. Now with the increase of consumer control, the introduction of ad blockers, and the growing desire to choose which content we engage with, an approach of “unadvertising” has become hugely important for brands.

Brent Hieggelke, Chief Mobile Evangelist at Urban Airship


More publishers will reject ad blocking
We expect that more publishers will take steps, like City AM has done, to ban people using ad blockers from viewing content on their sites. Publishers will also have to advertise in an increasingly sophisticated and engaging way.

Dale Lovell, Head of Digital at Adyoulike


The reasons for ad blocking varies amongst consumers

Poorly served ads have abused the trust between readers and publishers. Adobe and PageFair’s 2015 report into the cost of ad blocking found that misuse of personal information was the primary reason to enable ad blocking, whilst an increase in the number of ads was more important among millennials.

Augustin Ory, CEO, The Moneytizer


The rise of native apps  

Ad blocking will only increase the adoption of native apps. This will incentivize publishers to make their apps even better. Furthermore, companies whose revenue is primarily driven by in-app advertising will not be impacted, rather, with rise of apps they stand to only benefit in long term.

Amit Gupta, Co-Founder and President, North America, InMobi


It is necessary to understand the market not throw cash at the problem

Ad blocking tools are here to stay – but as an industry we need to change our ways, and quickly. 

Rather than simply upping spend and effectively flushing budget down the toilet, media agencies need to change their approach to ensure targets are hit in a sustainable way, placing more focus on the technology they are using to target their advertising, through to higher-impact creative messaging and more relevant calls to action. They should be working to really understand the ad blocker market, and the impact the technology is having on campaign planning and evaluation – and CMOs should be pushing their agency for greater transparency on these points.

Neil Eatson, Co-founder at Appraise Digital


Machine learning could render ad blocking less important

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 more relevant. This can be 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, SVP, Managing Director Europe, Rocket Fuel


Ad blockers hit low-rent advertising hardest

The fuss around ad blockers is understandable, but the fact is that they only really blunt a low-ROI form of brand advertising which no one really likes (including, often, advertisers). Brand advertisers will always be able to find enough inventory to get their message out.

Ciaron Dunne is CEO of Genie Ventures


This could mean the end of free content
Publishers and ad tech vendors have a crucial role to play to enhance the user experience by providing ad formats that improve user experience, and to educate the consumer on the consequences of the proliferation of ad blockers. Ultimately, the use of ad blocking technology could indicate the end of free content.

Andrew Buckman, MD, EMEA at OpenX


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