Don’t create ads that will be blocked, create content that’s read instead

ad blockers

Ian Robson

3rd November 2015

As more and more people use ad blockers, now is the time to develop a high quality content strategy to give your audience exactly what they want.

Many years ago I learned of the ‘accepted’ industry standard click-through rate for online display ads – I was (maybe naively) shocked! I then proceeded to be appalled at the growing use of click-baiting and SEO gaming to drive traffic numbers as a means to deliver decent volume against those pitiful conversion rates for advertisers. This was exasperated further when sites started serving as many display ads around and through content as was possible; leading to the inevitable dog’s dinner content pages as well as those annoying multi-page efforts that artificially drove page and ad impressions up while ignoring the needs of an audience keen to simply read the content.

It’s little wonder that users and now device manufacturers have taken matters into their own hands, with the accelerated growth in ad blockers moving its deployment from early users dangerously close to mainstream. Some figures put ad blocking growth at nearly 40% year on year, with up to 30% of ad impressions being blocked – the revenue implications for ad supported sites speaks for itself!

“It’s little wonder that users and now device manufacturers have taken matters into their own hands”

If you ever needed any more evidence that your audience is content keen, then let’s just call ad blocking the sledgehammer that the industry needed. But content has to be paid for by someone, so what can you do?

Audience honesty

If, and only if, your main content stream is worthy and compelling enough could you possibly hope to gain sympathetic success through explaining your need to finance the content and so asking your audience to whitelist your site in their ad blocker. A tactic deployed by some niche sites quite effectively, especially when the ads being served are less intrusive, carefully chosen to be pertinent, and even useful to their audiences.  But high traffic volume and broad content sites have too many personalities to keep happy to hope this would work for them. Paywalls and voluntary one off payments are another option, but again not for everyone, especially if you need regular, sustainable and forecastable commercial streams.

Fix the ads!

The internet advertising industry has started to take responsibility for its previous offences, with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently launching its LEAN ads programme to promote Light, Encrypted, Ad Choice Supported, and Non-Invasive Ads.

Honestly though, it’s too late to recover the lost trust, perceived relevancy and potential entertainment that consumers may have once had in display ads. But there is still some truth in a recent (October 2015) statement made by AOL UK Managing Director, Hamish Nicklin: “People don’t want to block adverts per se – they want to block irrelevant interruptions that have no value”.

Pandora’s ad blocking tool box is well and truly open, empowering the first tier of influential internet users, and with the second and third tiers soon to be empowered also. The days for traditional display advertising are well and truly numbered, but that certainly doesn’t mean the end of good quality content sites.

New, innovative, informed and semantic ad formats as well as other commercial endeavours will pop up to eventually replace the declining and lost revenues of traditional display advertising. And if there’s one thing that’s shaken up the online advertising industry for the better, it’s that commercial endeavours need to work with a great content strategy and not against it!

“…commercial endeavours need to work with a great content strategy and not against it!”

That Media Thing prides itself in putting the quality of content first in any marketing strategy that we propose to a client. And we’re not afraid to price it at a premium too as we know how valuable domain expertise and compelling story-telling combined with a data-informed, socially savvy content strategy can be.

This post is 1 of 5 reasons why a quality content strategy is all that matters now. Click on one of the links below to read another:

Incremental revenue depends on a quality content strategy

Tackling apathy is far easier with a quality content strategy

Winning at paid distribution is easier with a quality content strategy

Earn social amplification with a quality content strategy