- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On June 29, 2015
- Digital advertising
Between DVRs that let you fast forward through live TV and commercial-free streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, most people don’t spend a lot of time watching commercials on TV anymore. It’s hardly surprising that they’d use similar technology to avoid advertising as they surf the web.
Ad blocking extensions aren’t new; Adblock Plus and AdBlock, the two most popular extensions, launched in 2006 and 2009, respectively, and between them they boast more than half a billion downloads. Until recently, their usage was mostly limited to desktop and laptop computers, but that’s changing as people spend more and more time on their smartphones and tablets.
A few weeks ago, Apple’s revelation that iOS 9 would include an ad blocking extension for Safari (which commands more than 50 percent of the U.S. mobile browser market share) brought the topic of mobile ad blocking to the forefront. Apple joining the party is the biggest sign yet that this trend is only going to accelerate.
For organizations that rely on revenue from ads on their website or traffic from their own ad campaigns, the idea of Apple suddenly shutting off 50 percent of mobile ads is a scary one. Fortunately, the impact is unlikely to be so swift or so sweeping, but you may still need to adjust your expectations if you’re running or planning to run a digital ad campaign.
It’s also a good time to start thinking about other forms of digital advertising as you plan for 2016 and beyond. Even if the impact of the Safari extension is minimal, it’s unlikely that Apple and other developers will stop there when consumers have shown that they don’t want to be inundated with ads everywhere they go. Let’s look at some of the other ways brands get their messages out there.
Make the jump to a mobile app
Most free mobile apps are supported by ad revenue, and popular ad blockers have no control over them since they don’t run in a web browser. And since consumers are used to seeing ads in apps, they won’t feel as intrusive as they do on a mobile site, as long as they’re not too disruptive. On that note, you can also…
Make your ads less annoying
Let’s face it: One of the biggest reasons why consumers block ads is because they’re in your face so much. Once mostly eradicated, popups are back in fashion, along with other forms of ads that cover or rearrange content and make it harder to read. Some ad blockers allow users to select what kinds of ads are hidden, so regular banner ads might be okay while popups are not.
Buy native advertising
Native advertising, paid material that looks like editorial content, is all the rage these days. It’s probably not the best fit for your hospital’s website, where prospective patients and their caregivers are searching for authoritative information, but it’s a strong alternative for your own advertisements around the web. Native advertising allows you to share useful information that blends in instead of standing out or getting blocked.
Promote social posts
Increasing your paid social advertising is another way to get around ad blockers. Promoted posts in your Twitter timeline and Facebook news feed aren’t typically hidden by ad blockers, and most users access the social networks through the web interfaces or official mobile apps. That means that the people you’re paying to run your ads are the people who are controlling who sees them, not a third party.
Leave premium content to others
We’ve already seen major publishers making the shift to online subscriptions for other reasons, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of them do it if they see a significant drop in ad revenue. That said, this is one avenue that would likely do more harm than good in healthcare, especially as more and more hospitals embrace content marketing. No matter how amazing and valuable your content is, someone else is going to offer it for free.