DigitasLBi's Paul Dalton on how ad blocking will push brands towards native and experimental ad formats

The rise in ad blocking is a response to the industry’s own bad behaviour and will force brands to experiment with new formats this year, according to DigitasLBi’s chief media officer Paul Dalton.

He said the increasing prevalence of ad blockers could push clients towards native formats, where brands style themselves as providing value to consumers instead of giving them the hard sell.

“If you look at what consumers say when they talk about why they install ad blockers, it’s generally centred around intrusive ads that cover the entire content that they want to consume, make getting out of the ad experience just nigh-on impossible, where the exit button is almost invisible, or hard to see. They’re responding to what I think are essentially bad behaviours.

“If you are a brand that relies heavily on the ad revenue that you garner through laptop or desktop viewing, the prevalence of, in some cases 20 per cent ad blocking, is a huge, huge impact on your revenue. So I think across the board it’s going to be a multitude of detrimental impacts on our industry.

“It will force our industry, I think, to think about what we communicate and how we communicate, at what frequency and in what formats, and I think there is good value that will come from that. I think you will see the rise in experimentation of introducing new ad experiences, potentially built around native, where increasingly we embed the brand’s communications within the environments we utilise – where there’s very much more focus on the brands being valuable, as opposed to the brands being salesy.”

Dalton’s view echoes comments made by Anna Watkins, managing director of Guardian Labs, who talked of native advertising being insulated from the “adblockalypse” on media brands’ own platforms.

And the way we buy media will change this year, too, according to Dalton, who thinks the balance of power will shift towards advertisers and concerted industry pressure for greater transparency will lead to more brand-friendly programmatic platforms.

"I think there will be a migration into use of programmatic platforms that are more brand-friendly. I think we will see a migration of control within programmatic, away from the sellers and into the hands of buyers.

"We will see a rise in the importance of the tech-based consultancy services that agencies offer. I think we will see the rise of tech-stacks that are custom-built for clients, many of which will reside inside clients’ environments.

“The data that is used for media purpose I think will change in terms of the type and size of what is used. Often the data that is most valuable is actually not controlled by the marketing team on the client’s side. It is often another group that has the keys to the data kingdom. So I think we will start to see an introduction of those individuals into media.”

You can hear more from Dalton in our video above, filmed at DigitasLBi’s What’s Next in Media 2016 event.

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