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The Honeymoon is over: Paid Ads and the Ad Blocker War

Posted by Panda on November 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Header: Adblocker blog paid media war

We put a lot of emphasis on the importance of targeting in advertising, and rightly so. With the sheer amount of media being fed to audiences on a daily basis, the more targeted your ad, the higher the likelihood of a positive response.

These days, it seems that a ‘positive response’ is ‘not installing the adblocker’.

In my own experience, it’s been tough to stay objective on the topic. Why? Because working in advertising can make a person extremely conscious of being advertised to. I always used to think that this was a very exclusive insiders club: The ‘Ahhh, I see what you did there!’ club, where the motto is ‘Stop being so obvious, Bob’. We used to think nobody would notice but us.


It’s no longer exclusive, and everyone can see your hand. If you’re not getting it right, people will know, they will call it out, and they will disengage.

What makes people hate online ads?

As an answer, let’s see what they think they know about me based on what I’m served:   

 What companies know about you, based on your ad serving

And that’s only one platform.

This irks me more than I can begin to explain, even more so because I know exactly what they’re doing, and the simplified formula makes for terrible targeting.

Woman, Man, and Facebook relationship status does not make an engagement

Being in a relationship on Facebook does not immediately indicate a woman looking for diamonds. Do your research, and ensure you are not just creating sidebar-spam.

So how did Adblocking becoming a factor?

Android and Apple have upset the – well - apple cart, with their introduction of adblock browsers on android devices, and iOS9 on apple devices, both of which serve to reduce the number of intrusive ads that are so prevalent in digital media.

Unwanted, unsolicited adverts have caused audiences to disengage with online media, to the point where they have started to respond in a very heavy-handed and final way with adblockers.

Now, the paid vs earned comparison is being referred to widely as a ‘war’ - between two media types that should be working together to maximise results in the online space.

So how can you turn your dud into a guided missile?

What can marketers do to stop the adblocker onslaught, or at least limit the damage?

There are benefits to each type of media, and using them in conjunction with each other gives great results. Don’t join a side – be selective and measured in your approach, and do what’s right for your audience first, and your brand second

Walt Mossberg Quote, the answer is for the ad industry to reform itself


Walt Mossberg, the Verge

We have so many tools at our disposal, and so many strategic opportunities to really nail it.

Using content marketing principles to bridge the divide

I’m a content marketing fan, because the principles that content marketing follows are solid, measured, and positive. Let’s take a look at what they are, and how you can apply them to your general marketing communications to improve audience response and engagement:


It doesn't matter if it's B2B or not. Stop doing boring advertising

Extract from Marketing Mix Conference, 18 August 2015, Twitter

Ensure that your ads are:

  1. Targeted

Ensure that your paid advertising targets the kind of people who would be interested in your earned media. (Don’t carpet-bomb the whole female population of Facebook with engagement rings based on an assumption).

Use long-term analytics, and choose your moments carefully. Accidentally becoming spam by ignoring the finer details you’ve identified through advanced targeting is a rookie error, and will get your audience to Adblock Plus faster than you can say ‘oops.’

  1. Educational

Does the information you are sharing on your paid media tell your audience something they want to know? If they click on your banner, what will they get in return?

If your audience sees no value in the offering on your paid media, they will ignore or block the ads if or when they become too common.

  1. Helpful

Can you make a difference by giving your audience this information? If not, rethink who they are, what they want, and how they respond to communication.

Have a look at Zando’s banner ads when you come across them. They give all the right information, to all the right people.

  1. Attractive

Offers, products, and adverts need to be attractive to your audience. Be creative with your ads, target them well, and keep them from becoming irrelevant.

Another excellent example of this is how brands have accommodated audience engagement on YouTube: Advertisers know that the majority of an audience will hit ‘Skip Ad’ as soon as they can – so they deliver ads that people WANT to watch. 

  1. Non-invasive

Pop up ads, screen takeovers, and videos that auto play can create diversions, irritation, frustration, and distractions, which make it much easier for your audience to just close the window.

This is bad for your brand and for the website you are advertising on, so a measured and rational approach to paid media is a good idea for all parties involved. Hippo does great, non-invasive banners on the News24 site.

  1. Straightforward

If your audience is interested in your offer, and is taken to a completely different set of information on clicking the offer, you lose credibility in a massive way.

Don’t lie, fib, fabricate, or over-promise. And don’t create click-bait. You won’t believe what will happen if you do!

Keep the creepy, invasive elements out of your repertoire, and see what a difference you can make to your earned media with well targeted and planned paid campaigns.

A great example of this is the ads that Crazy Egg serve to people who have read their content or searched for their service. It gives the user all of the information they need, following the guidelines above, and makes it easy to decide if they want the offer or not.

Crazy Egg Excellent example of Paid advertising

This kind of approach validates your content by ensuring its relevance.

It also allows you to measure more effectively, since the clicks are real, and the interest is genuine.

This is the important part:  Measure

A solid approach to measurement will help you to decide what is or isn’t working, and your attention to the insights that your CRM system provides you with should help you to assess how to move forward, without subscribing to the ‘it’s us or them!’ policy that many advertisers have adopted. 

For a measured approach to your paid media activations, contact us for a consultation.

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