Ad Blockers Not Necessarily A Threat to Mobile Ads

The pervasiveness of mobile ad blockers has been all the rage recently, and publishers are on edge especially with Apple joining the movement with their newest Safari 6 Adblock extension. Last year, Global Web Index reported that 37% of mobile users surveyed had used a mobile ad blocker at least once a month, and a further 42% were interested in using one.


These statistics highlighted a fundamental misalignment between the value exchange; users’ cost of allowing ads, and in return the content offered by publishers. Users are not blocking mobile ads because they are freeloaders, or because they are intentionally trying to destroy publishers’ businesses. Instead, users are telling marketers that they are unhappy with the current state of mobile ads; users are sacrificing too much of their time, money, and privacy to navigate to content they are really looking for. Thus, ad blocking is a way for users to articulate the fact that they have negative feelings towards advertising, especially when it is irrelevant, intrusive and costing them additional data.


In essence, marketers should bear in mind that consumers do not mind advertising. They mind poorly executed, haphazard advertising that is not targeted to their specific needs, preferences or context.


Good News

However, no need to panic! Out of 4,000 US smartphone users surveyed, 69% said they would not pay anything to block ads. Only 5% surveyed were willing to pay the highest given amount - USD$1/day. Interestingly, these numbers don’t change much even when respondents were users who had previously installed mobile ad blocking software. 85% of Americans surveyed prefer to have today’s free, ad-supported internet rather than a paid, ad-free digital landscape.


Hence, ad blockers are not necessarily a threat, but instead, a much needed wake-up call for all marketers! Here are three ways the industry can work together to transform the world of mobile advertising, gradually rendering ad blockers obsolete.



Firstly, do not dictate how you want the value exchange to work; how you want users to view your ads, what you want users to see, or what you want them to do with your ads. Instead, listen to what users are saying.


Do not simply run your ads in mass digital, on the side of search, or on social media without any optimization. These are not going to work; it’s simply wasted budget.


The main reason users are increasingly annoyed with mobile ads is because it disrupts their user experience, but also because of ad functionality, visibility and fraud. Users have grown tired of the irrelevant ad barrage that is slowing down their search and mobile journeys, and costing them additional data charges.


If your ads are intrusive or disruptive, chances are the user is not going to look at it, let alone click on it. In fact, it is highly probable that the user is going to develop negative and hostile feelings towards your brand. Make your ads not only mobile-friendly, but consumer-friendly.


The best thing to do is put yourself in your users’ shoes; you enjoy a seamless, uninterrupted mobile experience, so why would you push ads that are disruptive or intrusive?


Be Relevant

Secondly, it is paramount for marketers to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Bombarding the masses with your ad is going to send you further into the clutter, not break through it. Users are definitely not going to interrupt their highly focused mobile journey for ads that are not relevant.


However, if you deliver ads that are trustworthy, of high quality, and targeted to the specific user, it can make all the difference. By putting more effort into ad execution and delivering mobile ads in the right context, users have less reason to ignore you.


A marketer’s strongest weapon is the treasure trove of consumer data they are sitting on. This data can help drive powerful retargeting campaigns; whether it is ads that aid brand recall, email reminders about abandoned carts, or short-code text messages to engage and interact with consumers. Use this data to your advantage, and use it wisely. (Read our article on How to Retarget Mobile Shoppers Effectively here)


Work Around Them

Another way to circumvent ad blockers, is to beat them at their own game. Online publishers such as Forbes and WIRED have recently implemented technology on their sites to detect when users have active ad blockers. These publishers then ask the user to either turn off the ad blocker to access the site, or force the user to pay for access. This may be an aggressive method, but it works.


The most challenging, but possibly most effective, method to triumph over ad blockers is to genuinely peak the interest of mobile users. This is why branded content and native advertising has made huge waves in the industry, and seen significant growth.


A common myth is that users are against paid ads or sponsored posts, and will boycott them even if it interests them. Some believe that even if your ad captures users’ attention enough for them to stop scrolling, and they see the ‘Sponsored’ text hidden in the corner afterwards, they will be turned off. This is far from the truth. Marketers should remember that users appreciate transparency and honesty, and are more likely to dislike your brand if your ad intentionally poses as content instead of an ad.


At the end of the day, the problem of mobile ad blockers will not be rectified immediately. It will take enormous effort from marketers across the mobile industry, but by continuing to raise the standards of mobile ads, we can gradually remove users’ incentive to deploy ad blockers and thus render them obsolete. Marketers should treat this as a wake-up call to dig deeper and create ways to produce and deliver ads that are respectful of users, while balancing relevance and impact.



YOOSE is the market leader in location based advertising solutions in Asia-Pacific and Europe. An early pioneer in location-based technology, YOOSE has been delivering powerful mobile campaigns for global brands since 2008. YOOSE understands how location-based technology is changing the way mobile consumers behave and interact with brands; it employs its deep expertise, wide experience and passion to help brands capture the opportunities that the rapidly evolving area of location based advertising can bring.
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