There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to online advertising, and it’s the growing uptake of ad blockers. These are browsers, or browser add-ons, which hide adverts on a page. Anyone who uses them is helping to kill off advertising-funded websites, and they’ll probably be the first to complain when the entire web becomes subscription-based. But it won’t stop them from installing the software.
Advertising-funded website owners only have themselves to blame. My local newspaper has become almost unreadable now, thanks to the sheer volume of pop-up and cover-over advertising, including hideous auto-play video adverts. Using an ad blocker is just about the only way to read the site.
On the other hand, the authors of the ad blocking software are callous moneygrabbers. Don’t think they have the users at heart. They’re contacting the big advertising providers (such as Google) and ‘whitelisting’ their ads for a huge fee. So your ad blocking software only actually works on adverts from providers who haven’t succumbed to the extortion.
It’s all a bit of a mess.
But what we want to know is: will the increased use of ad blockers hurt our online advertising campaigns? The answer is that for now, it’s unlikely. The ad blocking phenomenon tends to be more prevalent with domestic internet users and on mobile devices. An online advertising campaign for blue widgets is not going to see as much impact.
And the key thing to remember is that with pay per click advertising, if somebody doesn’t see your advert, they can’t click on it. So a hidden advert won’t cost you anything. If your budget is large enough that you’re already appearing everywhere you possibly can, you might find that you get less coverage, but correspondingly lower cost. For most of us, however, our ads are spread quite thinly, so we’ll just be seeking out more opportunities to spend the budget. And that shouldn’t be a problem.
Fixed rate advertising (where you pay a publisher a fixed amount for your advert to appear on a site each month) will be hit harder, as you’ll now get fewer views of the advert for the money. But I’m not sure how this type of advertising continues to exist in 2015, so maybe this is just survival of the fittest.
Make no mistake however, this is a huge problem for companies such as Google, who make nearly all of their revenue from advertising. Do not expect them to roll over and watch their business fade away.