Media and advertisers have always had concerns about the infamous ad blockers on the PC, but with their recent extension into mobile channels, all the alarms have gone off in the sector. From now on, it is not only Android that will allow the installation of ad blockers, but also Apple. In iOS 9, Apple has given controls to Safari developers to block pictures, cookies and, of course, banners.
We really need to think whether to consider this as a great threat to the sector, or simply a good thing for users. Nobody can deny that the existing standard advertising formats on mobile devices, such as the pervasive banner, are not only annoying, but VERY ANNOYING. They violate all standards of user experience, that are sacrificed in pursuit of the holy grail of monetization that rarely deliver to satisfactory levels.
The new opportunity that has opened up for ad blockers should not be considered as a threat, but rather as an opportunity to start doing things right. Google took many years to launch its most successful advertising service: Adwords;- and it is so successful because it provides an equal balance between the benefit for the advertiser and the user. Although it has been polluted in recent years, in essence it remains the same: promoted results based on searches. There is no doubt, it is a great success and is based on a concrete user need and behaviour.
But what about mobile? Do users still want to receive advertising on their devices, despite having been mistreated for so long? The answer is, actually, yes: a recent Nielsen study shows that 1 in 3 tablet users and 1 in 5 smartphone users are willing to receive adverts on their device, but only if they are based on their interests or are beneficial to them, or bring a value exchange. So for future mobile advertising to succeed, it needs to incorporate those key elements of personalization and rewards (content, points etc).
It is important to clarify that in the era of Big Data, we cannot agree when someone says that personalized advertising is equal to the current system of retargeting. This system not only displays a banner sporadically to the user, but it continues to bombard them again and again, causing irreparable damage to the perception of some brands. .
Without change there will be no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. As Mr Einstein famously said “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” We may conclude that significant changes are needed in mobile advertising in order to make a real success of this business.
I fully support ad blockers, as they deliver something that users want. It is up to us to do much, much better to convince users there’s no need for them.
Power to the user!