The growth of ad-blocking software on desktop and mobile platforms has become a hot issue in the marketing industry. The popularity of these apps and browser add-ons appears to indicate a growing consumer desire to keep ads off their screens.

However the ad-blocking “epidemic” may be more nuanced than marketer’s realise. There also may be some simple steps marketers can take to counteract the ad blocking trend.

How Bad is It?

A recent study of nearly 12,000 consumers from Connexity found that Millennials—generally considered the most tech-savvy generation—are actually less interested in blocking ads than older generations.

Among this group of 18 to 34 year olds, only 38% said they either have ad blocking software or plan to use it at all—that’s compared to 44% for older generations. As digital natives, younger consumers may be more tolerant of online ads because they have accepted them as part of the digital experience.

Display Ads: The Need to Create Value with Ads

The fact is, consumers don’t dislike all ads. They tend to ignore the ones that are irrelevant and obstructive to their digital experience—and far too many ads today meet one or both of those unfortunate criteria.

Data shows that consumers are more likely to engage with rich media ads, video ads, and native ads. All of these ads provide more content and storytelling than standard banners and have significantly higher CTRs and engagement rates.

study by Yahoo! found that consumers spend 25% more time fixating on personally relevant ads, and focus increases by an additional 15% if they are contextually relevant to the surrounding content. Another study by GFK found that nearly half of consumers agree that “Advertising that is tailored to my needs is helpful because I can find the right products and services more quickly.”

If marketers succeed in better leveraging quality data, along with creative and strategic placement, they could deliver ad messages that are not only relevant, but useful to their prospects. As DSPs improve they can optimise for performance which will serve the most relevant ads to consumers. One key approach to improving relevance is the use of dynamic creative optimisation, or DCO. At its best, DCO uses multiple streams of real-time data, a pool of high-quality creative, and a set of complex rules to generate hundreds of personalised ads on the fly. Information about time, device, weather, demographics, ad placement, location, purchase history, and retargeting information can enhance the accuracy of each ad.

The organisations that effectively streamline their marketing efforts—and unite data and creative— will emerge as the winners in the ad blocking battle.

A Final Word

There’s no doubt that the expectations of consumers have changed. They’re not completely opposed to advertisements, but they won’t tolerate a poor user experience or messaging that lacks relevance to them. While it’s currently challenging for marketers, it represents an opportunity to get closer to consumers by catering to their personalised needs. Now it’s up to marketers to harness the power of big data and dynamic creative to attract, engage, and convert people—in a way that benefits everyone.

*Source: This report is based on 11,836 global online buyers. The data was collected between November 7, 2015 and November 21, 2015, via an online survey presented immediately after completing a purchase at one of over 5,000 ecommerce retailers in the network of the Bizrate customer feedback program. Retailer participation in the Bizrate customer feedback program is free. Bizrate and Bizrate Insights are divisions of Connexity, Inc. (formerly Shopzilla).

Marie Dalton

Marie Dalton


Marie Dalton, Marketing Director EMEA at Hitwise.