According to Adobe and FairPage, more than 144m people are now using ad blockers to stop advertising in its tracks when they browse the web.
That number doubled in 2013 and continues to rise.
Because of demographics, ad blocking is not surprisingly most common in the video game and technology verticals, but is increasing in other verticals, like business and entertainment, too.
Frequently, ad blocking is presented primarily as being problem for publishers.
For instance, as Digiday’s Ricardo Bilton notes, even small amounts of lost impressions add up at scale, and “the difficult economics of the publishing industry means the problem is likely to get even worse.”
To be sure, ad blocking is a huge challenge – and in many cases existential threat – for publishers that rely on ad revenue. But finding a new revenue model or going out of business is easy compared to the challenges advertisers face.
After all, most advertisers aren’t going to go out of business because consumers blocked their ads, so they’ll be left to grapple with the fact that it’s getting more and more difficult to reach consumers effectively online.
Major brands in particular, which spend big bucks promoting their wares across multiple online and offline channels, are going to move a certain amount of product regardless.
But digital campaigns may become more involved and complex, the skills and knowledge required to reach consumers online may change rapidly, and customer acquisition costs may become problematic.
A good example of this can be seen with the rise of native advertising and the evolution of social media to a paid media channel.
While some brands are comfortable with content, native advertising is fraught with peril and, with it being referred to as repurposed bovine waste, there’s no guarantee that even if native ads can’t be blocked, they’ll actually help advertisers cut through the clutter.
As for social, advertisers are increasingly being forced to pay for reach on social platforms where reach was once offered at no cost. There might not be an inherent problem with this, but it can be problematic when the price of reach is added to the cost of content creation which is crucial to so many social campaigns.
Unfortunately for advertisers, the inconvenient truth of growing consumer distaste for advertising has been known for a long time.
While better methods of attribution suggest that display advertising isn’t completely ineffective, poor direct ROI for banner ad campaigns is as old as the online display ad medium, as is the concept of banner ad blindness.
And while advertisers pour lots of money into video ads, the online advertising channel du jour, according to FairPage and Adobe, video ads may be partly responsible for ad blocking’s rapid growth.
So while publishers may be guilty of relying too heavily on a revenue source that consumers could choose to opt out of, many advertisers are guilty of completely ignoring the fact that consumers just don’t want to view their messages – in whatever format they come.