5 Ad Blocking Takeaways for PR Pros

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Adblock software—which removes or alters the advertising you see on a website—will cost publishers nearly $22 billion in 2015, according to the annual “Cost of Ad Blocking” report.

While major players like The New York Times have compiled thoughts on how this lost revenue impacts publishers, Pierpont has reviewed the findings through a PR lens to outline the impact on your company.

Michael Miller

Proponents claim that ad blocking software enables web pages to load faster and alleviates privacy concerns. Publishers argue that advertising sustains nearly all the content you enjoy on the web.

But does it? Here are a few key considerations for content creators:

  • In a world where everyone and everything is a brand, there is a vast wealth of content being created. Much of the content is distributed through owned or shared channels.
  • While The New York Times operates a paywall, free content could be your company’s key differentiator.
  • The way that users find information is evolving due to changes in Google’s algorithm and Facebook’s related stories, “People Also Shared.”

With those in mind, here are the report’s top five takeaways for your company:

 1.     It’s not just you—it’s all of us.

Use of ad blocking software is increasing globally according to the report, with 41 percent year-over-year growth and 198 million active users worldwide. While we may speak different languages, online behavior is consistent regardless of physical location. So this topic impacts companies of nearly any size, across the globe. But what is causing this growth?

2.     Users block for a reason.

The primary reason for adopting adblock software? Privacy concerns about the misuse of personal information. Millennials ages 18-34, who are heavily targeted by marketers, also cited “if the quantity of ads increased from what I typically encounter today.”

3.     Technology enables behavior.

Mobile ad blocking has arrived. Mobile devices currently account for 38 percent of web browsing, and millennials in particular are heavy mobile users. Firefox and Google Chrome support mobile ad blocking, as does iOS 9, Apple’s latest mobile operating system.

That last part is a game-changer, since Apple currently represents half of the mobile browsing market. In 2015, year-over-year iPhone sales grew 40 percent in the U.S. and a remarkable 66 percent in emerging markets.

4.     Know your audience.

Ad blocking is significantly higher among young, technologically savvy audiences—prime targets for marketers, which is driving the panic and creating opportunities for companies. Websites seeing the most ad blocking include gaming, social networks, technology, education and sports/recreation.

Companies can seize this opportunity to revisit their mix of channels and messages. Identify the most-asked questions and focus on answering them. Solve problems through audience segmentation, and deliver relevant messages through the right channels to the right people.

5.     Invest in content and mobile.

Companies like GoPro and Red Bull stand out in heavily competitive landscapes by consistently investing in quality content. This gives them an edge in social sharing, search engine optimization and subsequent analytics, which drive stronger brand perception, engagement and sales.

Our takeaway from all this: publishers are afraid, but companies shouldn’t be. The proliferation of adblock software is an opportunity for marketers and communicators to demonstrate leadership by leveraging analytics to inform and improve content strategy.

Was there anything else in the report that stood out to you? Drop us a line at info@piercom.com.

Michael Miller is digital brand strategist at Pierpont Communications. Follow Pierpont: @PierpontCom