With the majority of mobile web traffic now impacted by ad blockers, where can marketers go from here?

Mobile ad blocking impact may be more severe than previously thought. A recent report by Blockmetry based on the percentage of page views impeded by ad blockers found that 62.9% of mobile global web traffic (30.9%) is being impacted by ad blocking. By comparison desktop has a web traffic score of 50.6% and just 21% of this was found to be impacted by ad blockers. Tablets account for 9.5% of web traffic of which 4.4% was found to be affected by ad blockers.

This suggests that mobile-level ad blocking is spreading at an alarming rate. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Measures are being taken to lessen the impact of ad blockers and there are ways in which marketers and publishers can continue to entice audiences to view and engage with their adverts.

The EU recently put a damper on telecoms’ plans to roll out network-level ad blockers for its consumers. The growing demand for ad blocking apps and software among mobile users has led some telecommunication firms to trial network-wide advertising blocks.
However, in August 2016, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications ruled that whilst consumers may install ad blocking apps, telecoms companies “should not block, slow down, alter, restrict, interfere with, degrade or discriminate advertising when providing an IAS (internet access service)”.
Surely that’s good news for advertisers. And with mobile now being a key driver of growth among the digital advertising ecosystem, it’s vital that channels are being kept open. After all, UK mobile ad spend is forecast to reach £5.7bn next year and grow steadily until 2020, rising well above desktop spending.
UK mobile ad spend
Screen shot 2016-10-20 at 7.05.11 AM
Source: emarketer.com

However, there are some good reasons why consumers turn to ad blocking software. These can serve not only as a warning sign to marketers that perhaps something is going wrong in mobile advertising, but further help drive an overhaul of the business to provide more innovative, engaging and less intrusive ads. Ads that consumers will want to see.

Mobile video advertising formats are already proving successful in attracting more views. Indeed, Millennials are particularly attracted to video ads and three times as likely as baby boomers to watch a video on their mobile devices. 

Mobile video popular among younger generation


Source: businessofapps.com

Interestingly, a recent report found that young men are more likely to notice mobile ads (37.0%) compared to women (17.3%).

Men and women on noticing smartphone ads

Screen shot 2016-10-20 at 7.15.31 AM
Source: mobileadvertisingwatch.com
Perhaps many of the above results can be attributed to expert targeting strategies. Impressions do increase when one only sees adverts about products and services that one ‘cares’ about or has previously looked at. However, creativity is still key. Brands can reach new audiences if they manage to captivate them with a creative and innovative mobile advert. For example, John Lewis’ 2015 Man on the Moon Christmas ad hit a large audience and was widely seen. Add to that the fact that the papers are already speculating what this year’s John Lewis ad will be.
John Lewis Christmas Ad 2015

Source: johnlewis.com
The difference on mobile is in the format, but the creative challenge remains the same.

Enter apps to save the day! Ad blocking has yet to evolve to the app level and in-app advertising has proven very successful over the last few years with mobile in-app ads growing 3.2x by 2018. For smartphone gamers, rewarded in-app ads have proven particularly ‘useful’. As marketers have become more crafty, they’ve begun offering in-game extra lives or tokens for gamers to view adverts in exchange.

In-app advertising on the rise

Screen shot 2016-10-20 at 7.32.40 AM

Source: vondroid.com

And with US mobile device users spending on average more time in-app than browsers, it appears mobile in-app advertisers are on the right track.

Time spent in-app versus browsers


Source: inmobi.com

It’s important to focus on what works well when it comes to engaging the mobile audience. Brands and retailers should also modify their websites to adhere to Google standards in order to serve a better mobile experience and avoid consumers abandoning their pages over slow loading times. In addition, campaigns can be served cross-device to reach an even greater audience and forego ad blockers at mobile level for a consumer to see it on desktop or tablet for example.

At the simplest level, mobile campaigns must be creative and the industry must begin to ensure that data on mobile devices isn’t being eaten up by mobile ads in order to keep consumers happy and far away from ad blockers.

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