Opinion: Mobile ad blocking is a good thing for advertising

Guillaume Lelait is general manager of Fetch, a mobile agency in San Francisco.

Mobile advertising has hit a roadblock — or rather an ad block. Mobile adblock originated from European mobile carriers that felt threatened by search engines like Google. AdBlock software’s popularity has spread rapidly a testament to the proliferation of stagnant, uncreative and downright annoying advertising strategies. With pop-up videos and banner ads catalyzing 400 million users to download AdBlock Plus since 2006, this begs the question: Why are marketers still using the same tired tactics from desktop on mobile?

The time has come for the banner ad and pop-up advertising to settle into retirement.

Today, the mobile user wants to be engaged by mobile ads and interact with a brand on their terms. Mobile advertising strategies must follow suit by not forcing ads on users’ screens. Now software like AdBlock Plus have cornered large players like Google, Microsoft and Amazon by stifling a key revenue stream. PageFair estimated Google lost a cringe-inducing $6.6 billion in revenue last year to the hands of digital ad blockers.

Facebook has acted by introducing Instant Articles, so now content loads significantly faster than the sites of major news publishers. Slow load times are a surefire way to have users abandon ship and move on to another site. Facebook realized this and took action so that advertising did not impede their user experience.

The “buy” button functionality has the potential to offer a much-needed native solution, as major players like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest begin to roll out what could be the future of mobile advertising. Content promoted by the buy button acts as just another post yet pushes products that allow for simple and quick purchases resulting from the initial click. Relevant, native and personalized, this approach allows ads to dodge ad blocks, but also become an engaging and trusting part of the user’s experience.

Yet the advertising industry is busy trying to fight fire with fire: Sourcepoint offers a solution to publishers that can block adblock software, inserting new ads over those that were originally blocked. But this does not solve the actual problem of intruding advertising nor address the deep-rooted issues behind digital advertising to date. The long-term answer for advertisers is to create compelling, native and non-intrusive ads that users do not consider clickbait.

Instagram’s “sponsored posts” accomplish just this. They provide brands with targeted yet organic advertising to a users’ feed. A report examined by FastCompany shows that Instagram has the most engagement and the highest conversion from browser to shopper, and it notes “92 percent of luxury brands that post an average of 5.5 times a week on Instagram increase their customer base.”

Mobile companies that offer quality products for free often rely on advertising as a primary source of revenue. Taking away a key source of revenue could stifle innovation and prevent users from enjoying quality products for free — in the manner we have become accustomed.

We saw the television industry evolve from informational advertisements to fun and entertaining ads that viewers actually enjoy watching. Now is the time for the age of creative mobile advertising strategies to shine. Not only do banner ads and pop-ups produce a weaker ROI compared to creative, native campaigns, but they leave users with a sour taste in their mouth toward the brands that may linger indefinitely.


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