Read our new manifesto
22 - 26 March

Festival for a rapidly changing world

Topics include: Direct to consumer / E-commerce / Data & privacy / Martech

Ad blocking software is doing advertising a favor

Imagine you’re sitting at a high-end restaurant eyeballing the menu in search of the courses you read about with great interest. The waiter comes to the table, you’re anticipating that first glass of wine, and he says, ‘before I tell you about our specials, let me just tell you about the one-time deal being offered across the street on oil changes, breaks and struts.’

This is the kind of situation consumers find themselves in every day when they go to find a product or service or even a store location on their mobile device and some streaming banner or coupon ad gets served instead. And if they are like me, they click off before going further.

Let’s face it, we have trained consumers to hate and ignore advertising. They fast forward through commercials, toss direct mail into recycling and install software to block annoying data hungry digital ads. As Bob Liodice, head of the ANA said at this year's annual conference: "We must swallow our pride and recognize that ad blocking represents consumer outrage over a diminished user experience."

That’s why I think ad blocking software is actually doing us a favor. For advertising to work today -- and that means produce measurable results -- it has to be something the consumer likes, needs and can actually use. What that looks like is the challenge. Not only must we up our creative game, but we have to imbue it with meaning, make it helpful, purposeful and smart.

And we have to do it on mobile. eMarketer predicts that programmatic buying on mobile will exceed desktop advertising reaching nearly $10bn this year and in two years will rise to $20bn.

Ad blocking software is out there for a reason. Ads slow down browsing time, eat up data and make it much harder for consumers to enjoy the benefits of their mobile devices. But there are initiatives out there that the consumer wants and needs. And if they like it, they will share it. Here are some ways marketers can make mobile content that consumers crave:

- Partner with social media networks – consumers spend 85% of their time on mobile devices but rely most heavily on five of the most popular social networking apps according to research. Facebook, one of the top five, continues to invest in bringing new ad models to its network and just announced new updates to its online shopping offering.

- Make it about the experience – Museums around the world are enhancing the museum experience through custom made apps. What they have learned about breaking down the walls of the museum offer many insights for marketers. The Art Institute of Chicago recently staged a Magritte exhibition that challenged museum goers to “unthink Magritte and to reconsider his surreal pop culture iconic images." The museum launched an integrated campaign that included posters, videos and even an outdoor installation of a pair of feet that kids could climb over. There was also a mobile app that encouraged visitors to share their own interpretations of the art. Users selected a Magritte painting while walking the exhibition and could write, talk, or even photograph post-visit their own inspiration or meaning of each piece, adding them to a collective stream that could be explored and shared.

- Make it useful – Starbucks gets it in so many ways. And I’m just saying that because I’m from Seattle. Their app has a permanent place on the front screen of many mobile devices. What makes it a killer app is the simple ease of paying for your order. Scan it. Pay for it. And then get instant rewards. Moreover, they keep enhancing it to make it better. In some markets you can order from your phone and pick up your Latte when you get there. Paid and done with no lines. They are even testing a coffee delivery service inside the Empire State Building. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

- All about the weather – we have elevated weather to high news status. And in some places (Seattle again), weather tends to drive your daily activities. Enter Dark Sky - a new kind of weather app that uses state of the art technology to let you know UP TO THE MINUTE when it will rain or snow. It works. As one reviewer notes, “there are a plethora of free weather apps, but this is in a class of its own.”

Every day I read about a new advertising platform designed to capture the consumers fancy. Content is taking new forms through apps, games, virtual reality showrooms and augmented reality shopping. I say let the consumer block the ads they don’t want. It gives the creators, strategists and marketers more opportunity to be creative and innovative.

You know it works when your friend or relative tells you about it. Because, let’s face it, if it isn’t shareable, it’s not going to deliver on the bottom line. At the end of the day, advertising still must sell.

Alan Brown is CEO of DNA, a full service marketing, branding and advertising agency in Seattle.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis