You Sowed It – Now Reap!

If you’re in the business of marketing, the latest report from the Adobe folks ought to scare the heck out of you.  It their 2014 Adblocking Report and the findings are neither welcome nor unsurprising.  In 17 slides the document raises questions about why any marketer that wants to reach a young, tech-savvy audience would bother to invest in digital ads.  Let me explain.

There are 144 million active ad blockers installed around the world.  That’s a smallish percentage of the total web usage base but among certain segments the number has reached critical mass.  27% of US web users report using ad blocking software and among 18-29 year olds the number rises to 41%.  The software is mostly installed on the Chrome browser as well as other user-installed browsers.  One would think that those who don’t use the pre-installed big 2 – Internet Explorer and Safari – are probably more technically literate and I’m guessing they are a desirable audience.

Why do people install ad blockers?  Nearly half say they just don’t want to see ads but a third of folks are open to seeing ads, just not in the obnoxious and intrusive ways many sites display them.  Another big reason is a concern about privacy. In fact, this sums it up quite nicely:

The majority of adblock users do not object to advertising in principle. They are acting out against a number of ad formats that make it harder for them to access content. Many adblock users also cite practical or privacy reasons for adopting adblock. There is an opportunity to acknowledge all these concerns with advertising that respects the user’s privacy and hard-earned attention.


In other words, why is the ad world so dead set against opt-in ads?  We tend to take privacy concerns for granted and now it’s coming back to haunt us.  We believe people so want our content that they’ll sit through a 60 second video to watch a 15 second clip.  We pop things up, under, and over.

We’re reaping what we’ve sown.  As a marketing community we cannot escape the consequences of our actions. Maybe it’s time to have another think about how we monetize content before this sort of software moves to mobile, which is where the audience is heading.  Thoughts?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Reality checks

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