Consumers feel bombarded by intrusive ads when they go online. That’s because advertisers and publishers have become more savvy about attempting to effectively target, deliver and track their messages in order to get consumers to make a purchase. But fed up consumers are striking back by installing ad blocking software. As a result, more than a quarter of US internet users will block ads this year – up from 16 percent in 2014, according to eMarketer.
And while there are no signs of ad blocking slowing down, there are some things that publishers can do to combat this growing trend.
For more than a two decades, ads on websites have enabled publishers to offset costs while allowing users to view free content. With the proliferation of ad blocking software, which allows users to bypass viewing ads, this unspoken deal is at risk.
So how can affiliates, who make money by promoting offers from advertisers, get around this dilemma?
One solution to the ad blocking problem is native advertising.
Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.
When done well, native advertising is non-intrusive, but also clearly states when content is sponsored. This lets publishers remain honest and transparent with their readers. It also lets content affiliates (like bloggers and reviewers) establish authority and trust. Content affiliates can focus on personal experiences with products that resonate with their audience.
This approach not only conveys a lot more information than a banner ad, but customers are also more receptive to it, according to a study by Sharethrough.
- Consumers looked at native ads 53 percent more frequently than display ads.
- Native ads registered 18 percent higher lift in purchase intent and 9 percent lift for brand affinity responses than banner ads
- 32 percent of respondents said the native ad “is an ad I would share with a friend or family member” versus just 19 percent for display ads.
Publishers are also using other strategies to fight ad blocking. They range from trying to convince users to stop doing it to focusing on improving the poor user experiences that led to it in the first place.
Here are some other workarounds:
That could be problem for affiliates. Since the intent of affiliates is to earn a commission by promoting retailer’s products, they want to drive more traffic – not turn off visitors. However, there is no published data or research that shows how paywalls work for affiliates (or if any affiliates have even tried this option).
Ask and Educate – Some publishers have asked their users to whitelist their sites in the blocking software. These messages appeal to consumers’ sense of fairness and their understanding that ads are how publishers pay the bills. But users will only listen to these pleas if they feel the pain of having to pay for the content. Still, the content must be compelling enough that users are willing to take the action to whitelist the site.
Ad Blocker Payoffs – Some industry watchers (including the IAB) have called this a form of ransom. Nevertheless, big players such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are currently paying hefty fees (some reports say the fees are equivalent to 30 percent of the additional revenues those sites would make from being unblocked) to whitelist their ads.
Permission/Incentive Advertising – Many publishers are setting up rewards program that allow users to earn points and rewards for voluntarily allowing third parties to deliver targeted ads based on user data. Through incentives, ads that were once considered annoying may be more relevant and tolerated.
Ad blockers are a challenge that publishers and advertisers will likely be facing for a long time to come. Still, affiliate marketers that are invested in producing meaningful content that engages customers and allows them to control their marketing experience, will continue to succeed.