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Ad Blockers: Love them or hate them, you’d better embrace them



I’m a marketing and public relations professional and I hate ads. I mean really, really hate them. They are cheesy, loud, and annoying at best, and at worst they can be offensive, disruptive, and embarrassing.

Point in case – how many of you have ever been sitting quietly, say at the doctor’s office, and scrolling on your phone to waste time. You click on a link to read a news article about how Grumpy Cat is going to appear in an actual performance of Cats on Broadway (I know, this is a very specific example) only to be bombarded with loud music and some lady talking. It’s an auto play ad and of course the volume on your phone is turned way up. You jump and yell along with everyone else inside the crowded waiting room. And for a moment you worry as an elderly man briefly grabs his chest and takes several deep breaths – all because you wanted to know more about the Internet’s most cranky feline, and the almost unethical tactics used by an advertiser to get your attention.

After said incident I – I mean you download an ad blocker so you never have to deal with an almost life threatening incident caused by advertising again. And you’re not alone. People are rapidly embracing ad blockers as a solution to the annoyance of constant advertising.


In a recent post from eMarketer.com, they say that 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker this year, which is a jump of almost 35 percent from the previous year. That breaks down into at least one in five people using an ad blocker with most use occurring on desktops and laptops (90.5 percent). However, use on mobile devices is also growing steadily as you can see in the graphic below.



Chart from eMarketer.com

The chart below from HubSpot details that the majority of people block ads because they are annoying and intrusive. In addition, 83 percent of people wish that they could block all ads on their mobile device.


Chart from HubSpot

For marketers and publishers, Ad blocking cost the advertising industry $22 billion in 2015 and it is predicted that it will cost the industry $35 billion by 2020.


Yes, they really are. They are telling us that we as marketers are reaching a tipping point of how much time and space we can spend in their daily lives. Some brands like Proctor and Gamble are rethinking their ad targeting efforts by coming to the realization that the more data you have about your consumers can actually make you lose sight of the person you’re trying to reach. They become a sequence of data points that you string together and then implement a strategy to reach them in the best place and at the best time.

However, as Adweek.com points out, “The correct audience has fidelity. They’re not reached by just demographic identifiers or tracking cookies but by messaging that’s personal, in-context and highly relevant to their needs and emotions…For example, you might think you’re retargeting ads to a woman who browsed your site for high heels, but it’s just as likely you’re bombarding her husband with discounts for pumps.”


I really do hate ads, but there is an exception. I love advertising that is done right – meaning that it is creative, insightful, and that it speaks to me on an emotional level. It goes beyond trying to sell me a product and instead it tells a story that is relevant to the world around me. Data points and analytics will only go so far as to understanding what really moves me, or any other consumer for that matter.

Marketers can and must be authentic in today’s digital landscape to be successful. I know clichés are bad, but in this instance the one that goes “Don’t lose sight of the forest because of the trees,” is applicable. If you want to reach consumers that are increasingly using ad blockers, you must keep who they are as individuals into perspective and learn how to communicate with them outside of traditional advertising.


2 thoughts on “Ad Blockers: Love them or hate them, you’d better embrace them

  1. Susan,
    No, you can’t admit to hating ads. That’s like a direct marketer calling her work “junk mail”. ☺

    I’ve noticed many websites asking visitors to disable ad blockers, especially free sites. Ovum, a research and consulting firm, estimates that worldwide, publishers lost $24 billion in revenue in 2015 because of ad-blocking. Technology companies like Admiral, PageFair and Secret Media are developing anti-ad-blocking software to help companies recapture revenue lost to ad-blockers (Marshall, 2016).

    Dan Rua, CEO of Admiral, one of the companies blocking the ad-blockers explained the need for this technology, “We really think the free Internet is at risk because of ad-blocking, so these types of solutions are needed to turn the tide (Marshall, 2016).”

    PageFair is working with publishers to simplify ads, removing animations and auto plays that make people choose ad-blockers. CEO Frédéric Montagnon says that Secret Media focuses on video ads and is helping publishers “fix the user experience (Marshall, 2016).”

    The ads that I don’t like are the autoplay video ads that reposition as you scroll down a page and the ads that ad significant time to page downloads. Would you be more accepting of ads that were less disruptive to your Internet viewing?

    Marshall, J. (2016, June 13). The rise of the ant-ad blockers. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-rise-of-the-anti-ad-blockers-1465805039


  2. Hi Stephana – the answer is yes, I am more open to ads that are less disruptive. I don’t mind ads sitting quietly on the side of the page as long as they don’t slow down the page load time too much. But you add flashing, noise, pop-ups, etc. and I am just done with that brand.


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