Creatives say the onus to curb ad blocker rise is on publishers not them
Marketers and creatives have argued that the threat of ad blockers is more apparent for publishers than themselves, claiming the media space is littered with poor inventory.
The quality of ads has often been branded a key reason as to why ad blocking has unleashed such anxiety across the industry over the last 18 months. However, for all the rhetoric around creatives needing to up their game to produce more ads that people won’t want to block, some would rather publishers did more to clean up what they see as a "digital landfill" of poor content.
“Ad blocking is less of a threat to the people who are creating communications and more of a threat to the publisher,” claimed Adam & Eve/DDB chief executive, James Murphy, on an Ad Week panel earlier today (18 April) alongside senior advertising executives and Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture and the digital economy.
Murphy urged publishers to “stand up for the people that create their content”, fuelling ongoing claims that ad blockers are merely “protection rackets in disguise”.
“The responsibility that we have is actually to do better work and actually work with publishers so that they’re not just scattering inventory all over websites and mobile. The sad thing is that the industry has a long way to go to raise its quality standards. And that’s not just the ad agencies but the publishers as well. There’s a huge amount of agencies, content providers and publishers just pumping out what you call digital landfill – stuff that no one will ever see or interact with but just keeps cluttering up peoples’ lives online.”
It’s a thought shared by Matt Braddy, former chief marketing officer (CMO) at Just Eat and founder of start-up Rock Pamper Scissors. “Ad blocking is more of a problem for the publishers,” he continued. “As a CMO I’m buying impressions. There’s too much inventory out there. If you’re a publisher and you don’t protect yourself then I’m going to be able to find that audience and those impressions via different sources, whether that’s in-game or on YouTube."
Despite the pressure on publishers to curb ad blocking, there are some - particularly on the media buy-side given the threat it also poses to their billings - who believe it’s incumbent on all stakeholders to work together.
“We’re all to some extent complicit in this because why are people ad blocking?” mused Helen McRae, the UK chief executive of Mindshare. “We’ve lost the old paradigm of right message, right time, right place and we’ve just gone in and sprayed the world with advertising.
"We need to back to the reason why people ad block; its because they find it annoying and intrusive. If they don’t get ads they like then they’re not going to ad block, because what they’re getting is useful or engaging. Understanding that motivation is important for everyone here in this hall."