Having grown up with technology, digital natives are very comfortable with curating their digital experience, and unfortunately for digital marketers, they love using ad blockers. Ad blockers have been part of the digital landscape for a very long time. Still, the rise in the use of ad blockers is quite alarming to digital markers- climbing from 21 million users in 2010 to about 75 million users in 2019 in the US alone. So what does this mean for digital marketers?
Digital natives and ad blockers explained
What is an Ad Blocker?
Ad blockers – also known as content blockers – are simple software programs that prevent ads from being shown on websites. They are typically browser add-ons, the most popular of which is AdBlock Plus.
Without ads on websites, pages load quicker, and data usage is lower – something that is good news for people with limited data plans or who live in areas with slower networks. Another benefit of ad blockers is that they can block the tracking and behavioral monitoring technology that profiles user behaviour. If you don’t want your online browsing monitored or browsing preferences sold to advertisers, ad blockers can be an attractive way to guard your privacy.
Who are Digital Natives?
Digital Natives grew up in the digital age, learning about technology from childhood. This exposure to technology in their formative years means that digital natives have a greater familiarity and understanding of technology than the generation that came before them.
Why are Ad Blockers a problem for digital marketers?
So what if users are blocking ads on their browsers? Shouldn’t users have a choice as to what they want to ingest on the internet? And the answer is yes, of course. But if you take a step back and look at the macro-view, you start to see the long-term impact that the adoption of ad blockers can have.
A majority of websites on the internet exist thanks to online advertising. Everything from blogs about Labradoodles to sites like the New York Times depend on online advertising revenues. That money helps pay for the writers that produce the content, the hosting costs, and the maintenance of the site.
When you visit a website, you might see an ad for a product you like, then you click on the ad and make a purchase. This gives the site owner a small fee, the product seller can sell their product, and the user can buy what they like.
But Ad blockers disrupt this process because if you have an ad blocker installed, you won’t see ads, so you won’t click and purchase – that means that the site owner doesn’t get their money and the product seller can’t sell their product.
What Can Digital Marketers Do?
While the situation can seem dire for advertisers and their clients everywhere, there is some good news:
- There is data on user preferences and if your strategy is too aggressive in following users across multiple devices, if your ads are annoying or irrelevant, you’re going to get blocked.
- Users are taking their data management more seriously and expect the sites they visit to be trustworthy.
- Users are willing to undo ad blocking on sites that are giving them the content they want.
Strategies that won’t chase visitors away
- Committing to creating ads that aren’t disruptive. That means no pop-ups, no auto-playing video ads with sound, no large sticky ads and no prestitial ads with a countdown.
- Having a website data policy and being clear as to what your visitors can expect when it comes to tracking cookies, data storage, etc.
- Creating excellent content that makes visitors want to support your site and prompting them to turn off their ad blockers to read further.
Digital Natives are going to continue to make up a more significant part of the digital population. And that means addressing their concerns when it comes to their privacy, and their digital experience is going to become more important.
If you want to break free from the dreaded ad-block, reach out to WSI’s Digital Marketing experts to ensure that your online presence doesn’t cause friction with your potential customers.