Adblocking: a campaign destroyer or a creative challenge?

A new study by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) recently asked marketing professionals for their opinion on adblocking technology, and whether it had an impact on their campaigns. The results were surprising, as an impressive majority of 76% of survey respondents said that they felt adblocking will actually help the industry. They told researchers that “ad-blocking will be positive for the industry, encouraging greater creativity”.

Adblocking is widespread among web users across the globe. Research by eMarketer, releasing its first ever report on adblocking in the U.S., revealed that nearly 70 million people were estimated to use technology to block ads in 2016. This represents approximately a quarter of all U.S. Advertising technology company Pagefair also released statistics which differed significantly from eMarketer’s findings, but nonetheless suggested that 45 million people were using adblockers on their smartphones and laptops.

Commenting on the majority of marketers who seemed to see adblocking as a creative challenge, the CIM’s Chris Daly said:

“Marketers are naturally skilled when it comes to embracing change and new technologies, and they have a natural thirst for creativity. So it was positive to see the majority of respondents rising to the challenge of ad-blocking.”

“It was also encouraging to see that whilst marketers are starting to look at new technologies (like Chatbots and Virtual Reality), the fundamental skills of their profession in terms of delivering more personalised, targeted and influential campaigns, still sit at the core of marketers’ everyday life.”

Why is adblocking good for the marketing industry?

Some may be thinking that adblocking technology throws serious obstacles in the way of marketing campaigns, preventing consumers from seeing online ads and creative campaigns. However, it can actually transform the industry in some very positive ways.

Unable to force advertising content onto unwilling consumers, especially when bolted to things like entertainment and websites, brands will be forced to try a different tactic. They will need to create emotive, compelling, enriching or useful content that people will actually seek out themselves and share with their friends. Unable to piggy-back on other mediums such as TV and film, marketers will need to create their own channels. The hope among many marketers is that adblocking will drive standards of creative content and consumer engagement up.

The CIM study also found that nearly half of marketers felt that industry disruptors such as Uber, Amazon and Google were putting them under pressure to regularly reinvent and improve the customer experience in order to keep up with these high-profile and pace-setting rivals.

Of course, not everyone believes that adblocking is a good thing for consumers, and especially not for marketers. Around 38% of the marketers surveyed by CIM warned that adblocking could lead to a decline in online marketing.

Where do you stand on adblocking – is it good for the industry, forcing innovation and driving creativity? Or is it throwing red tape around your efforts to reach consumers with your campaigns? Please feel free to share your thoughts.