State of play
In 2022, Ad blockers are no longer applications known only to those with a sophisticated understanding of the Web. They’re often downloaded when a browser is first used. These types of apps allow cybernauts to browse online without having to worry about a ton of intrusive advertising that could make this experience unpleasant. Today, with nearly two-thirds of cybernauts using ad blockers1, it’s high time to ask how we got here and what we’re going to do about this reality that is not likely to change.
According to an article in eMarketer about consumer attitudes towards digital advertising in 2021, the use of ad blockers is widespread. In fact, we no longer see wide usage differences between men and women, and age doesn’t seem to matter much. What’s more, even though users of computers tend to use them as add-ons, the downloading of ad blockers for cell phones and tablets showed significant growth over the past few years2.
How did we get here?
It would be easy, and erroneous, to blame advertising in general for the popularity of ad blockers. Actually, even though the main function of these add-ons is to block any content that isn’t native to a given site, the majority of cybernauts wouldn’t object to being exposed to a variety of ads. Because they understand that this is a means for a website to generate revenues3. A great majority of people say that the main reason for their use of ad blockers is to avoid interruptive advertising and ads that seem to intrude on their private lives4. If this is true, then we can say that the problem arose as a result of abuse over the years, produced by experimentation on the part of advertisers and the attempt by users to impose limits on this. The varying levels of tolerance varying from platform to platform is surely proof of this. If ads are tolerated in podcasts by most people who tune into them, we can say that the story is very different on social media, where the lack of confidence and the feeling of the invasion of privacy5 make cybernauts unreceptive to advertising. Furthermore, years of being attacked by pop-up ads may have led cybernauts to always keeping their ad blocker on.
As can be seen from the recent announcement of the shutting down of Youtube Vanced6 (an application facilitating, among other purposes, the blocking of advertising on the platform), sites can continue to adapt and make ad blockers useless. However, this is a temporary band-aid and doesn’t resolve the fundamental question. Brands that have a good understanding of what irritates their targets can review their approach and become better aligned with cybernauts who seek to join with them. And even though there is no sure-fire formula for success, by ensuring a good marriage between the creative concept and the media placement, and then following-up after the content is put online, ads that have been produced should fall into the category of content that isn’t actively avoided.
Pertinence: From the moment of creation, thinking about the way the message (and its form) will be perceived is essential to avoiding being added to the long list of visuals that users actively avoid. This is equally true for the message being communicated and the form it takes.
Placement: Intimately linked to pertinence, a placement that is based on the particularities of the target will make the difference between an inopportune ad and one that will be well received by the target. In addition to taking into account the media consumption habits of the target, the placement must take into consideration where it is posted and the frequency with which the target will be exposed to it. Certainly, we can well imagine that a member of the target will rapidly tire of an ad if it is presented 30 times over a short period of time, especially if there is no interaction.
Follow-up: Whether it’s to make up for past errors or to improve the performance of a placement, following up on content once it is placed on line is absolutely necessary: are the people that it has been exposed to the right people? Are cybernauts engaged once they are redirected to a website? Is the environment where the ad is positioned well thought out and adapted to the message? Is there a saturation of content following an overexposure to the target? In short, remaining pertinent means also being able to read the data and being able to adapt according to the response of the target.
1 [En ligne] | https://content-na1.emarketer.com/consumer-attitudes-toward-digital-advertising-2021
2 [En ligne] | https://chart-na1.emarketer.com/245669/use-of-ad-blockers-by-us-adults-by-device-age-march-2021-of-respondents-each-group
3 Andrew Essex, The End of Advertising, why it and the creative resurrection to come, 2017
4 [En ligne] – https://chart-na1.emarketer.com/247323/motivations-of-us-ad-blocking-users-using-ad-blockers-march-2021-of-respondents
5 [En ligne] – https://content-na1.emarketer.com/consumer-attitudes-toward-digital-advertising-2021
6 [En ligne] – https://content-na1.emarketer.com/shutdown-of-third-party-youtube-app-vance-raises-questions-about-ad-blockers