Let’s Make Peace With Ads & Ad Blockers
If you’re going to answer a True or False quiz, and read these statements:
1. Almost all web developers have created an e-commerce site.
2. Almost all websites rely on online advertisements to generate revenue or get attention.
3. Content is king.
you’ll answer True on all them. But, with the evolution of web technology comes the evolution of browsers and user experience (U/X). Users love it, web advertisers hate it, and what are we referring to? Ad blockers.
Ad blockers are browser extensions that block obtrusive advertisements and even user data trackers. One of the most popular ad blockers is Adblock Plus. People have been using this type of blockers to get rid of annoying ads that interrupt their net surfing experience.
But, advertisers panicked when they’ve learned that Apple will include ad blockers in its iPhone. How would they put their marketing message across if some browser extensions would prevent them from doing so? Is there a war against ad blockers?
There shouldn’t be. In April 2014, Adblock Plus announced a set of guidelines for its “Acceptable Ads” initiative in the form of an online manifesto. The manifesto includes the five tenets of what online ads should be:
1. Acceptable Ads are not annoying.
2. Acceptable Ads do not disrupt or distort the page content we’re trying to read.
3. Acceptable Ads are transparent with us about being an ad.
4. Acceptable Ads are effective without shouting at us.
5. Acceptable Ads are appropriate to the site that we are on.
Well-known companies like Reddit and Developer Media had joined the campaign and the manifesto still encourages other companies to join.
But as online marketers and advertisers come up with creative ways to put their ads on websites, these ad blockers keep on pumping up their engines to get rid of them. It’s a vicious cycle that goes on and on.
As Internet users, we appreciate the presence of ad blockers. 3 out of 4 use Adblock Plus to get rid of annoying ads. But, working in a web development company, we are aware that it would be very counterproductive for a business website not to have ads if that’s the only way for it to generate revenue.
On the other side of the coin, Google was on hot seat after big brands pulled out their ads from YouTube recently. These brands just realized that their ads were placed in videos promoting terrorism and other violent forms of hatred. No brand seeking for commercial patronage would like to be associated with these kind of web content.
But why only now? Unlike the traditional advertising placement agencies, buying and selling of ads are done with programmatic advertising. So it’s a software. Ads go through automated exchanges that sort them based on a given user’s demographic. Advertisers can choose to include and exclude their promotions from appearing on certain video topics or categories. Google claims it doesn’t place ads on videos “with hate speech, gory, or offensive content.” But given the billions of videos being uploaded on YouTube, it’s impossible for Google to track and enforce this to the letter.
Another thing, with the monetization program Google has, a part of the income from these ads on YouTube videos goes towards the creators themselves. Given that the programmatic advertising software filtered the demographics, keywords, and available ad spaces, big brands are unaware that their ads are found in questionable placements. Viewers, in turn, might think that these brands support these hate videos. It seems that Google has a lot of problems right now.
Having seen the plight of paid ads and ad blockers, businesses see this as another opportunity to turnaround and be creative. There are inventive ways for websites to get around. One is to create sponsored content, which is not annoying and more informative about the product/service being advertised if copy written well. Second is to request the user to disable the ad blocker or skip the ad (whichever the case may be). The user will oblige if he or she finds it necessary. Either way, it is a win-win solution for the business and fair for the user. We believe that online advertisements should be relevant and unobtrusive to be accepted by users.