Today there is a battle over the use of ad blocking. On one side, there are the consumers who love being able to surf the web without being interrupted by pesky ads. On the other side, we have organizations and advertisers that work together to produce content often supported by various advertisements and sponsors. So now with technology that blocks ads that support these sites how valuable are ads if consumers prefer to surf without them? And, how do consumers feel about ad blocking?
A few days ago I came across an announcement by Microsoft that it would be incorporating ad blocking into its new Edge search engine, and it seemed like the perfect time to discuss the perceptions of ad blocking. (Read more:Microsoft plans to build ad blocker into its Microsoft Edge browser).
But first, here are some ad blocking facts to give you a taste of the situation.
“A new report from Adobe and one of several startups helping publishers fight ad blocking shows that 198 million people globally are now blocking ads, up 41 percent from 2014. In the US, ad blocking grew 48 percent from last year, to 45 million users.” – Read more
“Adobe says that $21.8 billion in global ad revenue will be blocked this year.” – Read more
As you notice from the information listed above, ad blocking is on rise. And, consumers may not necessarily understand the impact of ad blocking. For most of the people I spoke to they did not necessarily know what ad blocking was. Then when I explained how it disables the ads that would normally appear in various locations as you surf the internet, they seemed to understand. They also approved of the ad blockers because they found the ads to be disruptive.
It can be a hard topic because for consumers the answer is simple, they do not want to be bothered by the ads while browsing. For organizations that rely on the income of advertisers, it is not such a simple solution. In fact, for some organizations who rely heavily on advertising they require users to disable the ad blockers before they can access their site’s content. This in theory would seem like a great way to ensure users are able to see advertising while browsing the site, but the downside is that it can be a deterrent for individuals who either do not wish to disable them or simply to not know how to do so (You can read more about this technique in this article: Forbes forces readers to turn off ad blockers, promptly serves malware)
So, for my own curiosity I decided to ask my younger sister, Emily, about her thoughts on ad blocking. I did not prep her on the interview, I just asked her questions as I videoed her candid responses. She is 18 years old and headed to college this fall. She spends a lot of her time browsing the internet and purchases items frequently from her favorite sources. You can view the full video by clicking here or by clicking the image below.
As you see in the interview, Emily is not a fan of ads. But it isn’t about the fact that they are present it is that they are a distraction for her. She feels that when she is trying to read an article, flashing ads become irritating. I think this information offers some important takeaways for organizations using advertisements and some suggestions for ads that might not scare away young browsers.
Suggestion 1: Do not use moving or flashing ads
I know this is difficult because the point is to grab the viewer’s attention, but it gets to a point when the ad becomes a distraction. Ads should not have quick movements, color changes, or flashing aspects to keep from distracting users.
Suggestion 2: Make ads that fit with the content on the page
If the ads look like they belong on the site and the site’s content is successful, it may be better for viewers to think the ads are a continuation of the content and may actually be more included to read them.
Suggestion 3: Create ads with useful content
Users will be more likely to accept ads that are more aligned with what they are searching for. It is even more beneficial if the ads contain content that the user deems useful.
At the end of the day, users will be happier with ads that help them in their browsing endeavors and do not detract from them. If ads are less distracting, users may not be as inclined to utilize ad blocking.