Studying Advertising Strategy? What you need to know about ad blockers

Tue 1 Dec 2020

What Accounts for the Rise in Ad Blockers?
How Ad Blockers Have Become Commonplace
How Online MA in Advertising Strategy & Planning Grads May Develop Creative Advertising Solutions

With much of the advertising industry moving online to reach consumers in the digital age, the rapidly growing popularity of ad blocker extensions is a worrying trend indeed. It seems the incremental gains advertisers have been experiencing in engagement and return on investment (ROI) as a result of innovations in targeting could be nullified by the mass move to blocking software.

Although no one knows exactly how many hundreds of millions of users are using ad blockers, approximately 30% of users in the U.S. alone already use the technology on their smartphones according to eMarketer, and mobile ad blockers are expected to rise 62.3% this year. This means students studying advertising and marketing and those looking to stay ahead of the game need to develop a nuanced understanding of the issue to reach creative solutions.

What Accounts for the Rise in Ad Blockers?

Some have argued that advertisers themselves are responsible for the rise of ad blockers by disrupting the online experience with intrusive and potentially harmful schemes. "Hundreds of millions of users have rebelled against the status quo in advertising,"opines Johnny Ryan, head of anti-ad-blocking firm PageFair."Blocking is an opportunity to undo the mistakes of the first 20 years of advertising on the web."

online masters in marketing

Ad blockers are on the rise, particularly on smartphones

With society increasingly moving online, users have little patience for the accompanying escalation of advertising like ubiquitous pop-ups or videos that begin playing without consent. These aggressive techniques that often slow website loading times and may even infect computers with malware impact the industry as a whole, turning users off advertising entirely.

How Ad Blockers Have Become Commonplace

While there have always been people who have found advertising intrusive, the first ad blocker was only invented in 2002 and widespread adoption is a relatively recent phenomenon. Most people have discovered blockers through word of mouth and internet browsing. Popular extensions like Adblock Plus block not only pop-ups, but flash banner ads and all types of ads in social media in their default settings, although it is possible to "allow acceptable ads".

masters in marketing and advertising

Falmouth Flexible students acquire the complex research and strategic thinking skills to achieve effective solutions

These extensions have been available as optional additions for years but it is more recent news that Apple's Safari mobile browser supports ad blocking that has advertisers panicking. Losing the huge mobile market would be a catastrophic blow for brands that depend on advertising revenue. Some have fought back with calls to keep the internet free, blocking users with ad blockers from viewing content, using technologies that get around certain blocking extensions, applying to be whitelisted as "acceptable ads", or experimenting with getting users to pay for their content instead.

How Online Masters in Advertising Strategy & Planning Grads May Develop Creative Advertising Solutions

Surveys show that many people using ad blockers are aware that content providers depend on advertising revenue and would be willing to see ads that aren't annoying. Some brands are initiating subscription services to respond to the demand for ad-free experiences or shifting budgets to inbound and other types of marketing. It will be an ongoing challenge for graduates with a masters in advertising strategy & planning to work around ad blocking by seamlessly integrating ads in the user experience.  

A recent forum of cross-industry stakeholders developed a 4-point plan to rescue the online advertising industry:

  • the user should have immediate tools to reject and complain about advertising
  • display only a limited number of premium advertising slots
  • increase contextual targeting to limit reliance on behavioural tracking
  • create better metrics of advertising success to improve online advertising

It's certain that times are changing for digital advertising but then again advertising has always been a fluid medium. Better understanding of consumer preferences through the kind of creative research and strategic development conducted in Falmouth Flexible's online master’s degree in advertising strategy & planning will enable brands to engage online users more effectively.

Looking for in-depth creative training to thrive in today's challenging advertising industry?

Pursue an online masters in advertising without pausing your career with Falmouth University's Online Masters Degree in Advertising Strategy & Planning.


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