Block party: reaching people in the age of ad blocking

Reaching affluent and tech-savvy consumers with digital ads is increasingly difficult. A recent study showed that 91% of people say ads are more intrusive today than two to three years ago. Furthermore, people are blocking ads at an increasing rate, up 30% in 2016.

In fact, Americans with college degrees are even harder to reach. They are 1.5 times more likely to use ad blockers. The number one reason for the increase is that people feel ads are annoying and intrusive. It's not surprising that people feel this way due to the staggering volume of disruptive ads. On a given top-rated comscore site, it's common to encounter over fifteen different ad formats.

Today, those who can afford to pay $12 a month can go ad-free on the likes of Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and a growing number of other platforms. Apple and Google are also launching their own ad blocking technologies, reducing advertisers’ and publishers’ ability to show intrusive and autoplay ads. Increasingly, the only people who get stuck watching interruptive digital ads are those who cannot afford to avoid them. To reach tech-savvy and affluent consumers, advertisers must provide relevant, meaningful messages in a non-interruptive way. In a world where 82% of people have closed web pages due to autoplaying video, and 74% of people object to being singled out by brands on their social feeds, the industry must move expeditiously to solve for these challenges.

The truth is that 73% of people said they would be willing to pay for content to avoid ads. Between ad blockers and people willing to pay for digital content, how do brands reach their addressable audience? This is a scary reality for brands reaching consumers, for ad-supported publishers monetising their content, and for tech companies advancing the industry.

The solution

Non-interruptive ads such as native ads, branded content, and value exchange are increasingly used by publishers to win back audiences. Native and branded content placements provide non-interruptive experiences that match the look and feel of top publishers. People prefer them because they blend in, and brands like them because they perform, with CTRs that are more than four times that of display ads.

Value exchange is another non-interruptive, opt-in format. It provides instant value to consumers by unlocking entertainment, points, and other types of digital content.

What’s even better is that value exchange is preferred nearly two to one over traditional ads, and its performance trumps the industry, with a video completion rate that is 1.5 times benchmarks, with a 19% lift in aided awareness. These placements change the ad game and help dissuade people from blocking ads, while keeping content free and maintaining inventory abundance for advertisers.

Non-interruptive advertising is the key to improving the industry. It is also the perfect vehicle for delivering memorable ad experiences to millions of people. 84% of Americans would reconsider using ad blockers if given the choice to view an ad. This kind of non-interruptive relationship can foster deeper brand connections because the messaging happens on the consumer's terms.

Why is this crucial? In a mobile-first world, where consumers have control over how, when, and where they consume content, they also want to control their ads.

Producing better ads requires a partnership between publishers/platforms, advertisers, and consumers. Collectively, we need to make ads less intrusive and more relevant for consumers. Publishers like Google, Facebook, Fox, and Zynga are already offering non-interruptive formats like value exchange and native placements. In the end, brands may be able to develop an even deeper relationship with their consumers and move digital advertising into a new golden age.

Adam Cohen-Aslatei is the senior director of marketing for Jun Group.

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