A Happier New Year for Advertisers

Last year the IAB Leadership Council, which holds its meeting early in the new year, was all about ad blockers. This year, the theme for that annual conference is Publishers and Platforms: What’s Next, from which we’ve gathered that people are more worried about Facebook, Google and Snapchat than about the death of the entire industry. How quickly we forget, although not much as changed.

Last month IAB released a study on ad blocking in Australia and found that, as in most other parts of the world, about 28% of Australian customers used ad blockers. Although that was a higher number than anyone had anticipated, if you read down further into the study you will find that only 6% of mobile users had installed them.

Australia is both similar to, and different from, Europe, North America, and Asia. It’s got similar numbers of ad blocking consumers, but it has one big difference: the reason why Australians install ad blockers.

Critically different and thus important, one in five people in Australia are only . blocking ads because they’re afraid of viruses and malware rather than because the ads are intrusive. The Australians seem not to mind seeing advertising messages. So it’s not surprising that when asked by a site to turn off their ad blockers 44% of consumers did so, and still more consumers whitelisted the site.

Of the 70 per cent who have been asked by a site to turn off the technology to access content, 62 per cent have either turned off or deleted their blocker, or whitelisted a site in response.

This should give advertisers and publishers a pretty happy new year, because IAB’s conclusion is that what’s needed to put the ad blocking apocalypse to rest is communication from a publisher to its visitors. In other words, teach the visitors a bit more about how the industry works, and they will make the decision to preserve free content and turn off their ad blockers.

While we are obviously happy about this news, we also think something more is needed: less intrusive advertising formats and more highly targeted messages to the right audience at the right time. We’ve been talking about the changing definition of “reach” — from reach out to everyone we can find who might be a buyer, to reach in to people whose choice of site visits has already indicated their interest in the marketer’s message. That’s on the messaging side. And on the format side, we of course recommend our “polite” outstream offering, InArticle, which consistently outperforms the competition.