Breaking news: Apple is supporting Adblock Plus on iOS 9 Safari browsers, thus taking away a large cohort of audiences who use iPhones for browsing the Internet. Many reports state that monthly user counts for the Adblock feature will go beyond 250 million by the end of 2015 (Source: PageFair). Interestingly, total mobile ad spending is expected to rise 430% by 2016 (Source: eMarketer).
Hidden Disadvantages of Ad-blocking:
Did you know that ad-blocking software and plug-ins affect conversion rates for Google ads (with sidebar ads hidden away from viewers)? Previously, companies and publishers paid for ads even when they weren’t on display for many users. On the same note, the ability to block YouTube pre-roll, in-view, post video ads and Facebook featured ads could rob companies of their call-to-action strategies. In addition, new social media ad-blocking apps are constricting agencies' marketing efforts on the most influential channels.
Promises of a brighter tomorrow for mobile has been soured by this new obstacle, especially for agencies and brands building mobile advertising strategies (through social media, video and in-app announcements). Does this mean you can't overcome this obstacle? No, as the battle for users’ attention has become more heightened.
Glimmers of Hope:
Firstly, there is some light at the end of the ad-free tunnel. The most popular ad-blocking company (AdBlock) offers an incentive for companies willing to ‘tone down’ their advertising, by getting them to subscribe to their whitelist program, known as ‘Acceptable Ads’. This software gets companies to submit their ads to AdBlock for a review, that will determine if the content is non-intrusive enough for users who have installed the ad-blocking plugin. The clinch is how effective the CTR will be when ads are practically non-existent to viewers. Additionally, there will be extra costs for being a part of the whitelist. Sites like Amazon and Google, for example, are giving away 30% of their profit share from ads to AdBlock, for the sake of having their image-heavy ads displayed on thin corners (Kissmetrics).
How to Fight the Dragon:
There’s always the option of fighting fire with fire - in other words, signing up with an anti-ad-blocking feature that will allow your mobile-responsive website to function as it would without any restrictions.
The rule is to stick to banner ads and other such static content that will allow users to scroll past them in the pursuit of not disrupting their attention, giving them the opportunity to click on ads if the interest arises. However, this is not the most successful route as the average CTRs for all banner ads is only 0.50%.
[Infographic from BuySellAds]
The threat to mobile advertising also extends itself to native ads. Adblock plugins are now more sensitive than ever, seeking out all possible signs of promotional material and hiding them from viewers. More than the ad not being viewed, the effects are low rates of page views and impressions, changing the pricing scene for publishers completely.
The good news is that it’s not all doom and gloom for mobile marketing. Research by software company Flurry, confirms that 86% of audiences spend time on mobile apps whereas a meager 14% surf the Internet on their desktop or mobile browsers. And in the spread of mobile platforms, the Facebook app has had the steadiest of avenues with 30% of those above the age of 18 using it as a source for news (2014 Pew Research Study). Additionally, 75% of the total global social ad spend are on apps. This figure will increase to 16% (currently 9.4%) by 2017 (eMarketer).
So here are some options for mobile advertising:
- In-app publishing
- Native social media ads
- Newsfeed display ads
What are the Benefits?
1) Display Advertising
Reaching a higher concentrate of target audiences through display ads (linking users from their social feed to web articles) will allow publishers to establish pricing standards for ads. Marketers can still focus on a high CPM model, defining their brand identity with the perfect audience persona, thanks to marketing on social media and having access to targeted promotions and specific communities.
2) Create Your Own Native Content
Brands can then develop a stronger content generation strategy with blogs, newsletters and the use of email marketing material, that will only serve to present their voice in a clearer fashion. Owning your content and being original will earn you the respect of publishers and thought leaders.
[Image: Vice Facebook Page]
3) Be Your Own Publisher
Rather than depending on third party publishers, brands can create their own publishing space for potential tie-ups with other companies. A great example of this is Vice and Facebook, where the publisher pushed their content through the social media channel (with their branding in tow) building content for the host app while promoting their own work. Another example is in BuzzFeed’s partnership with Purina, through ‘Dear Kitten’ videos that utilized rich and original video content for the cat food brand, presenting their own creative potential and powerful position in the world of online or mobile advertising.
[Image: BuzzFeed Video on Youtube]
Facts to Keep Our Heads High:
If done correctly through rich, personalized and narrative style content, viewers will form strong attachments to brands who are looking to grow their social influence in the next decade.
According to the IAB’s study of ‘Generation Z & Young Millennials: Mobile First on Campus in the US’ (September 2015), 55% of respondents stated that their buying decisions were directly caused by ‘relevant’ ads viewed on their mobile devices through social media. This proves that the most valuable demographic for brands is likely to respond to material that speaks to them on a personal and useful level. The ‘mobile first’ mindset is something that the new batch of target audiences will keep with them for years to come, calling for an opportunity for brands to develop long-term relationships with younger audiences.
The same study showed that the factor which makes college students more willing to support brands because of their social media presence. The trick is to create conversations about who you are and attract people who identify with you.
On the other hand, the study also noted that 40% of college students didn’t trust ‘sponsored content’ featured on social media channels, heightening the importance of ‘owned content’ which brands will definitely have to look at for the upcoming year.
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