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A Marketers Guide to Surviving Ad Blockers in 2017 & Beyond

I’ll admit it, I block the ads too.

I don’t want to learn about the new Nissan Rogue while I’m exercising nostalgia over classic clips of The Sopranos on YouTube. Howard Gossage once said:

“People don’t read ads. They read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.”

And he was spot on. Never have I directly searched for an ad, because it’s not a conscious part of my journey towards engaging with a product. When exposed to your marketing online, I’m generally only receptive if already interested in you.

Awful, I know. I, a fellow marketer – am admitting that not only am I bothered by your efforts – but that I actively avoid them. I suppose if I were embarrassed by this, it would vindicate me a little, but I’m not; In 2017 self-expression and entrepreneurship across the world (wide web) are in full swing, and more people have more to show-off than ever before!

So how can your content thrive in an ad-prejudiced world? – Here are 5 crafty tips:

01. Seek premium publishers

Most content hubs benefit from a reliable readership. While publishers understand how valuable they are to advertisers wanting exposure to their audience, they are not naive to the use of adblockers and have begun to adapt accordingly.

A growing incentive explored by brands such as The New York Times, BILDsmart and The Guardian, has been to offer an ad-free (or ad-lite) version of the service based on a paid subscription.

How to use this in marketing?

Develop partnerships with publishers to provide them with content for their premium sites. For example, if promoting a rich-media piece available for download on your website, create an exhaustive article around it to be published on the partner site linking back to you.

02. Get whitelisted

Services like AdBlock Plus (ABP) understand that advertisers and publishers can and do provide content that is valuable to users without it being intrusive. As a compromise, ABP has incorporated an Acceptable Ad initiative, whereby ads will not be blocked provided they adhere to specific criteria based on placement, distinction and size.

The process, which is enabled by default, relies on an algorithm to recognise ads that meet the criteria automatically. ABP believe this acts as an incentive for advertisers to produce better quality ads.

How to use this in marketing?

Once your ads have been designed in-line with the criteria you need to submit an Acceptable Ads Application form which takes 10 working days to process. You will then be contacted by eyeo (creators of Adblock), who will manually review the ads.

03. Lock yourself in

Websites like Forbes and the aforementioned BILD do not allow views of their content with ad blockers enabled. Although there are studies into the effect this can have on bounce rates and readership, publishers will not budge.

I think it’s safe to assume that legacy brands like the above base their confidence around their dedicated audience and quality of content; Forbes 2017 media kit boasts 56M unique visitors, 30M social followers and a print readership of 6.8M in 2016!

How to use this in marketing?

Setting budget aside to work exclusively with brands like Forbes means guaranteed exposure. In some cases, deciding to opt out of traditional AdWords completely, in favour of managed placements might be the better option.

04. Target apps

The way ads are blocked on desktop and mobile differs significantly from the approach that would be taken to block them on an app. Unlike the traditional method of installing a plugin like ABP, apps rely on two main methods:

1) the apps Software Development Kit (SDK), 2) the device’s Operating System (OS).

Since it would be illogical for developers (who rely on revenue from monetisation of apps), to embed software disallowing all advertising – we are left with option two. OS’s like Apple would have to allow adblocking tools as part of their App store whereby a download would allow the user to use other apps ad-free.

Apple tested this with Been® Choice, before disabling it completely. Ultimately, software blocking all ads in apps interferes too much with revenue on a grand scale.

How to use this in marketing?

Partnering with ad exchanges that work with app developers to get your ads seen can increase your brands visibility. Impression share is automatically higher since certified blocking software hasn’t been rolled out universally in the mobile app environment.

05. Blend in with the natives

Native advertising works. These are ads that appear inline with the site’s own content and are placed contextually for relevance but are paid for by the advertiser. Oftentimes you’ll see a ‘sponsored’ tag somewhere on the page, but native ads generally flow synonymously.

The wonderful thing about a native ad is that it can take any form; banners and print more traditionally but in recent years even video is using the technology, as showcased by Onion Labs in 2013.

How to use this in marketing?

Native ads can make for a great A/B test, for example testing sponsored native content against branded native content and comparing results. (Where the former appears naturally and the latter subtly displays the advertisers brand and is listed as sponsored.)

I hope you find these tips & tools useful, keep me updated on your results!

Marketers toolkit Provides advanced analytics on the number of users blocking individual websites. Has the ability to tap into this exclusive audience using internal ad-serving technology.

Secret Sophisticated encryption software making ads undetectable to blocking tools.

Sourcepoint Circumvention software that detects Adblockers and reacts with messaging about turning off the software, or paying for an ad-free experience.

Yavli A powerful inventory comprised of visitors using ad blocking software. Creates opportunities to monetise by presenting relevant sponsored content in a non-intrusive, user-friendly way.

eyeo • Software developers and creators of Adblock.

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Martina is a Digital Marketing consultant, developing cross-channel techniques since 2010. This blog explores industry developments with real-life application.