Ad blocking and the drive to content

Mark Pinsent

18 September 2015

Through the contacts and tenacity of Metia's top-notch earned media team, I was lucky enough to spend some time chatting to Matthew Wallat the BBC yesterday, and he was kind enough to include some of my comments in his piece on the BBC site.

The subject was the rise of ad blocking software and apps, and the impact of them on digital advertising (and, as a result, the future of those sites that rely on the revenue from it). Ad blockers do exactly what they say on the tin: allowing consumers to view online content without being presented with a plethora of targeted digital advertisements. The most advanced claim to be able to block ads on any type of website or social network. 

The use of ad blockers is expoding: as The Verge reports today, ad blockers have surged to the top of the app store charts. It's big business, and a huge issue for ad revenue-based business models. As I say in Matthew's piece, give consumers a way to block ads and they'll take it. But consumers understandably want to have their cake and eat it too. They want free websites with great functionality and content, but they don't want to be disturbed by the ads that fund them. That's unsustainable (and this piece, also from The Verge, is excellent on the subject).

Metia's clients are the companies and brands that want to have their messages reach their target audiences (generally, in our case, business rather than consumer audiences). So you may be thinking that we also see ad blockers as a huge issue to our clients and therefore a risk to our business. But that's not really the case.

As ad blocking technology's use increases and becomes more sophisticated, more companies are going to be looking at alternative ways of getting their messages to the audience. I fully expect this to result in an increased focus on marketing through content that has genuine use to the audience, and delivering it to people in a highly-targeted way. Which is right up our street.

People say that they don't like being marketed to. I don't believe that (which kinda comes with the territory!) What people don't like is bad marketing: irrelevant, low-quality, poorly-targeted, overly interruptive.

I love the fact that consumers are becoming more sophisticated in filtering the marketing that reaches their eyes. It leaves more space for the smart stuff to occupy.