Ad blocking: the symptom of an industry that needs to reinvent itself
During my visit to AdvertisingWeek New York , two main topics caught my attention: ad blocking , and the use of data by marketers to reach their target. A big question has emerged in conferences and hallway discussions: is ad blocking a symptom of overuse of browsing data? And what about the advent of programmatic buying? The figures confirm the trend: according to a study by IAB Canada in partnership with Comscore published in May 2016, unly one in six would use an ad blocker in Canada, and that proportion rises to 28% for male millennials , a hugely popular target for marketers.
THE REACTION OF PUBLISHERS HAS BEEN, IN MANY CASES, TO ADD ADVERTISING SPACE IN ORDER TO COMPENSATE FOR THE DECREASING REVENUES, WHICH DOES NOT GO WITHOUT DISPLEASING THE USERS.
Ad blocking hurts content creators. While programmatic buying methods have dealt a heavy blow to the smallest players in the industry (bloggers, advertising networks with a very niche target, etc.), the popularity of ad blockers is often seen as the last nail in the coffin. The reaction of publishers has been, in many cases, to add ad space to compensate for declining revenues. Which does not go without displeasing the users. Even Brian Myles of Le Devoir took a stand last week, saying that advertisers have some soul-searching to do. He explains that, according to him, only the biggest players have something to gain from the industry in its current state and that Quebec publishers are suffering from the advent of programmatic . He presents the readership of Le Devoir as the elite in Quebec, with high incomes, educated readers; a target, therefore, more than enviable for advertisers. Some would be tempted to reply to Mr. Myles that his real problem is not knowing how to get out of an advertising business model, or suffering the consequences of the delay that Quebec companies have in terms of e-commerce . But that's another debate…
The question that arises here is: how to turn the tide? Many talk about creating native content as the best way to circumvent ad blockers , while others see it as a kind of content prostitution. Admittedly, the line is often thin between sponsored content and advertising disguised as real content worthy of the name.
INTERNET KILLED THE TV STAR
Let's go back, shall we? In 1940, the first TV commercial appeared on the airwaves. An effective way for TV stations to generate revenue to produce higher quality and more engaging content. TV began, much like the web, by offering completely free content . Over time, cable companies began charging for access to specialty news and then sports channels. And without realizing it, we are now paying large sums, sometimes hundreds of dollars a month, to access content, in addition to being bombarded with 30-second ads, product integrations, sponsorships, and what else!
In the 1990s, the advent of the home web brought about a revolution: the return of 100% free, and moreover, interactive content. The younger generation is quietly abandoning television for the web and a real democratization of content is emerging. Everything is accessible to everyone, free of charge. We only have to endure the few banners here and there in order to access all the content we want!
Times are changing, and so are the methods of collecting and unifying data that are improving . So much so that the ads are more and more precise. We know (more or less) what an Internet user likes, what he likes less, his gender, his age, his passions, in which region he lives, if his income is high...
THE REIGN OF DATA
Faced with this reality, ad blocking is certainly a symptom of the overuse of users' browsing data and the multiplication of advertising spaces on the same page.
“ AD BLOCKING IS A CRY FOR HELP FROM USERS WHO ARE TIRED OF HAVING THEIR EXPERIENCE RUINED ”. – LYNDA CLARIZIO, PRESIDENT, US MEDIA FOR NIELSEN.
We have all already been retargeted by an advertiser who ABSOLUTELY wanted us to stay at his hotel, even though we had already spent the last week there. The “booking” data never went to his ear, and he continues to present us with his unbeatable offer for our stay in Orlando two weeks ago. There was a time when context mattered, the association with quality websites and content was worth something to advertisers . The more it goes, the more we abandon the context for a Russian doll of data that tells us with relative certainty that a user is indeed in the market for our product. If we don't pay more attention to the online user experience, the most pessimistic are right to predict a crisis on the web similar to that suffered by television.
EMOTION IS NOT MEASURED WITH A COOKIE
With all this data, creatives are more and more focused on taking immediate action, the BUY NOW with a dynamic price connected to real-time inventory in addition to complementary products to a purchase that we may have made. two weeks ago already. Marketers have migrated millions of dollars to media that is measurable, quantifiable and demonstrates concrete ROI and sometimes forget that a relationship with a consumer depends a lot on the emotion one feels for a brand . We have stopped creating brands; instead, business models are created that are more like accounting than marketing. We are far from Coca-Cola's “I'd like to teach the world to sing” campaign .
Have we forgotten that we are addressing a human being, with emotions and a unique approach, rather than a cookie ? Maybe we should use the astronomical amount of data available to refine our messaging, optimize our landing pages, not just our targeting methods.
Not so long ago, when a publisher activated a paywall on its website, public discontent was merciless. Yet a majority of us are avid users (and even ambassadors) of brands like Netflix and Spotify. Now, what is the place of the advertiser in this model? And for the small player who cannot afford an integration in a big production? These are questions we have to deal with on a daily basis.
Adviso has a performance-based philosophy, so data is extremely valuable to us and, we believe, to advertisers . That said, it's easy to forget that you're talking to a human being and not a cookie . Storytelling has its place, even more now than before. Before inviting me to tour Europe, maybe we can chat a bit? Learn to get to know each other? Maybe then we'll find things in common. 😉
The overabundance of measurement is hurting the industry, and the illusion of an immediate return on an investment on the web is starting to fade little by little. When you buy a billboard, you don't expect a measurable and immediate return, do you? Why then have these excessive expectations when buying a Billboard on the site of a major daily? The industry needs to face up and get back to the roots of marketing; not everything can be measured. In my opinion, we must return to an interesting, engaging communication. Brands must learn to use the web as a conversational place, two way , and not a megaphone. The future will belong to those who reduce their dependence on paid media and capitalize on a strong organic presence and real engagement with their customers .