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

A roadmap to solving for ad blocking

Brian Weigel

Ad-Blocking, as a topic, continues to weave it’s way into many conversations throughout the ad tech industry. Its impact is felt across the entire digital ecosystem, affecting the publisher, the advertiser, the technology, and the end user. With the growth in usage of ad-blocking technology, publishers are met with declining revenues as the ad tech community scrambles to provide better standards to meet the demands of all parties involved. Here’s a look at what all parties involved should be focused on.

On the Ad Tech Side

For those behind the screen(s), it is important to start recognizing that there are pieces of this puzzle that can be solved now to slow the attraction of installing ad blockers. To do this, we—as an industry—must confront our culpability. We brought this upon ourselves by creating these digital downfalls and it is up to us to restructure the strategies we have put in place.

And we’ve started. Initiatives like IAB’s L.E.A.N. Program (Light, Encrypted, Ad Choice Supported, and Non-Invasive ads) is a good initial step towards creating standards that work to provide the end user with a better overall experience. Creating standards and best practices along these lines will help curtail ad blocking over time if the principles are adopted en masse.

The current definition of optimization in ad tech must also be addressed. Technological advancements in digital advertising must be met by people who can arm both the buy- and sell-side with performance solutions that work for them and consumers. Part of this evolution in ad tech is re-thinking the role of ad ops in solving the problem, not just by optimizing the revenue, but incorporating a true balance of art and technology back into the mix.

In short order, as a community we need a true evaluation of how we’re facilitating advertising to the consumer. This will help all of us put the consumer back at the center, delivering on the promise of the valuable experiences digital advertising has.

On the Publisher Side

While there is much to do from an ad tech perspective, publishers must also take a closer look at their current monetization strategies and how the technology they have in place effects the on-site experience. With thechonolgical advancements in header bidding, pubishers must evaluate the best strategy for implementing this technology. Header bidding has the potential to add more harm to the user experience if it is not implemented well, yet if implemented appropriately, could provide new revenue opportunities, giving publishers the ability to decrease clutter and intrusive ad formats. Publishers should lean in to the opportunities these solutions provide in creating a more balanced value equation.

There are also developer tools that publishers can leverage to get a good baseline diagnosis of how their pages load across devices. Tools like Pingdom Website speed Test and Google Pagespeed Insights provide great insights into page speed and recommendations on how to decrease latency on the site. The effects of this will be not only felt from a better UX perspective but could also lead to better SEO performance.

On the User Side

The continued development of options for the user is also an important factor. In addressing users who have an ad-blocker solution already installed, publishers must identify best practices for how these users access their content. A strategy must be implemented that communicates with the ad-blocking user how they can access the publisher’s content, as close to a mutually beneficial way as possible.

While most users will stop short of paying for ad-free content, there are ways to offer an “ad-lite” experience. Some publishers have successfully implemented this strategy, and as a result, they are seeing more engagement on the site from users. Others, like Axel Springer, have had success by simply forcing users to turn off ad-blockers if they don’t pay to view the content. Like anything else, this type of implementation will need to be properly measured to determine what the ideal solution for each publisher.

So…What’s next?

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to hinder the rise of ad-blocking technology, we’re going to start to see some of its long term effects curbed by all parites involved, recognizing that ad-blocking is pillar in the evolution of digital advertising. We all need to look at ad-blocking as a message from the consumer that a valuable creative experience is simply not there for them. All parties must continue to work together to identify how best to secure engaged audiences without taking away from a positive user experience. There is much to do, but creating standards, maximizing site performance and user experience, and engaging users to understand what will work for them, are easy ways to start to right the ship.

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