Ad Blockers Are The New Napster

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Photo courtesy of TechCrunch.com

As 2015 draws to a close, one of the most miraculous shifts to take a look at this past year has been the rise of ad blockers, and the massive blow they deal to the marketing industry. Most sites rely on these pesky ad boxes to generate their revenue, and without them, are largely unprofitable.

I’m going to be quite blunt: ad blockers are the new Napster. We all know that it is wrong to illegally download music and videos online. But what about “stealing” other content, such as articles? Make no mistake: when you’re using ad blockers, you are actually stealing content from publishers, who have spent countless hours researching and then writing and re-writing that content. Many publishers are reporting as much as 50% declines in revenue this past year, thanks to the use of ad blocking software.

But on the same token, I am empathetic to the average consumer. These ads are often intrusive and can be incredibly annoying, sometimes making it impossible to even visit a website thanks to all of the re-directs, automatic downloads and pop ups. Clearly, there is a reason consumers are using ad blockers, so we must adapt in this changing digital landscape.

The time to innovate is now. Ad blocking software has caused the entire industry to re-think the way we reach audiences and connect in a more organic way. This is where native advertising enters the conversation. If your marketing strategy is still focused on garnering clicks and impressions from big box ads on websites: stop. You’re likely missing a large portion of your demographic and wasting your marketing budget.

Native digital advertising is the place to put your money. This advertising content appears as editorial rather than paid advertising, some might believe this to be slightly deceptive. I’ll leave that for your to decide for yourself. There are a few options you have to consider when planning your marketing strategy:

  • Online publication advertorials / influencer blogger promotion
  • Video advertorials
  • Sponsored content
  • Instagram influencer advertorial (just about every photo on Andrea Denver’s Instagram is a product plug)
  • Publication takeover / full website takeover
  • Product placement (as performed masterfully in Hilary Duff’s latest music video)
  • Podcast sponsorship (anybody remember those MailChimp ads on Serial?)
  • Sponsored Facebook posts, Instagram photos and promoted tweets (in my experience, it can be very difficult to see actual ROI from these, depending on your product or service)

Ad blocking is here to stay, and no publisher can afford to be complacent. Reaching millennials has become more difficult than ever. This group is  digitally savvy, does not watch traditional television and according to Moz.com, 63% of them admit to using ad blockers.

But the bottom line in the ad block saga is this: your content has to be organic, authentic, and shouldn’t feel like an advertisement. So what are you going to do that will make your customers want to turn their ad blockers off?

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