Why you should create shareable content, not ads that will be blocked


Henry Tucker

29th September 2015

I recently read an article on Digg that said how “ad-blockers are going to kill the internet!” I don’t think this is quite true and I believe there is another way and that’s with innovative, quality content.

Look beyond the clickbait headline and the article does have some merit. The premise is that by blocking ads we are cutting off the money that is used to generate all the free content on the web. If we don’t look at the ads, or click on them, then they will go away and the sites won’t be able to provide free content anymore.

I’ve used ad-blockers for years as I find online ads annoying and invasive. One of the most infuriating was the website of a well-known UK daily newspaper that carried banner ad software that sniffed out your cookies as it would show ads for whatever I had just been shopping for. It was clearly trying to be useful, I just found it downright creepy.

I’m not alone either, a study by Adobe and Pagefair found that the use of ad blocking software has gone up 41% since last year at a cost of $22 billion dollars in lost revenue. And with Apple effectively enabling ad blocking in iOS 9, these numbers are only going to rise.

In fact the way that websites do advertising has always concerned me. Webmasters host what are links to other people’s websites on their sites. You are effectively saying, come to my site then click on one of ads I’m hosting and then leave my site.

Innovation and quality

So if the ads, in their current format at least, are going away, how are brands going to get their messages out there?

Content and native marketing may seem like the obvious solution but there are risks if it’s not done right and rules are emerging to help with building audience trust.

Instead of wasting money on display ads that people block, create content that is compelling, topical, engaging and begging to be shared. Engage with your audience and they will not only come back for more, but they will also become your evangelists and share your stories with their networks giving you a much wider reach. This is why earned audience eyeballs are so much more valuable than the paid for kind.

earned audience eyeballs are so much more valuable than when you have to pay for them.

When you think about it, you block things that are annoying like nuisance callers, feel free to do the same with annoying ads too and don’t feel guilty about it.

So why would someone want to share your content? Well why do you share content, because you like it and think that your friends will like it too. It’s that notion that is at the nub of what good makes good content. Don’t just take our word for it, this is what Outbrain, the content provider has to say:

“Ads are for consumers. And when consumers feel “advertised to,” they tend to ignore ads, or increasingly block them. Content is for people.

“People know the difference between ads and content. Content is what they come for; ads are the interruption.”

Check out the work That Media Thing does on Intel’s iq.intel.co.uk magazine website for a prime example of what we mean and also our site IT Security Thing where the emphasis is on creating great content to engage, stimulate and share in order to build a community.