The latest research from Tune suggests that up to 70% of mobile users are either currently blocking ads or are interested in an app that will eliminate ads. Digital marketers are understandably worried, given that the same report predicts 80% of users will have an ad blocker installed on their devices by the end of 2017.
The use of ads allows a company to offer free content and services such as email, social media, cloud storage and more. When all ads are blocked, content and service offerings will be impacted. The end result: users paying for access to all websites and for many of the free services we currently take for granted.
Ad Relevance a Factor in Ad Blocker Use
Smart use of big data uses analytics to accurately serve contextual ads that are of interest to the consumer, using evolving algorithms that change along with our interests. For relevant ad placement, digital marketers will require analytics experts and data scientists. For large brands or enterprises, it is likely that a specialist in machine learning, swarm computing, and artificial intelligence will be part of the mix.
Making ads more relevant is one thing, but it still doesn’t solve other user issues – the ones ad blockers solve. If ads are annoying or affect performance, they are often blocked. The solution is for digital marketers and mobile app developers to work together to maximize the user experience. Without fundamental technical changes that can only be implemented by those with the technical knowhow, ad blockers will become part of a user’s standard toolkit.
These changes include but are not limited to:
- Choice: If users do not want ads, they have the option to opt out. In some apps, this prevents user access or requires a paid subscription. Either way, the user makes the decision.
- Incentives: Users may be more apt to opt in if they are rewarded for their choice, perhaps through a reward system in the form of virtual points to be redeemed later for products or services, or in the form of privileged access to additional content.
- Performance: If multimedia is used for ads, page load time should not be affected.
- Distraction: Ads should never detract from the user experience and placement should never interfere with a site or app function.
Black and White Lists?
Most ad blockers will allow you to whitelist specific websites and apps, blacklist being the default. The result is that quality offerings are not impacted by ad blockers in any perceivable way.
Forbes.com, for example will detect the use of an ad blocker and request that the blocker be turned off for site access. Most will comply, given the quality content contained within. Their reward? 30 days of reduced ads before normal service resumes.
As Tim Gentry, global revenue director at Guardian News & Media, said in Marketing Week, “Part of the solution is offering fewer adverts of higher quality that appear in trusted environments. If the industry can collectively adopt this mind-set, we can avoid a technical arms race to weave our way around ad blockers which benefits no one.”
As the entire digital marketing industry is aware of the need for change, we can certainly expect many employment opportunities in the areas of mobile ad and app development to address the expectations of tech-savvy users. Companies are also producing their own proprietary apps to communicate directly with their clients and partners. In fact, the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 19% growth in employment for application developers by 2024, which is more than all other occupations. This makes mobile app developers highly sought after in an industry with global skill shortages.
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