6 Strategies to Combat Mobile Ad Blocking

First, television viewers fast-forwarded through commercials on DVR. Now, they’re installing software that blocks digital advertising from their website browsing.

Ad blocking has been the bane of the advertiser’s existence over the past several years, but now there’s a new threat: ad blocking on the mobile web. As mobile use rises, so does mobile ad blocking, and it becomes more challenging to reach consumers through mobile ads.

Looking at the Numbers

Globally, about 16% of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users use ad-blocking software on their devices. While it is more common in emerging markets where smartphone users carefully monitor data internet use and speeds (ads slow down internet speed and eat up data minutes), we are now seeing an increase in use of the software in the US as well.

How does this compare to desktop ad blocking? According to a Blockmetry report, there is three times as much ad blocking on mobile web than on desktop. This is a serious concern for brands looking to leverage mobile advertising as a way to reach consumers. When their ads are blocked, these brands could miss out on $9.7 billion in potential revenue between mobile and desktop this year alone.

So how do we combat this new danger? How do we get mobile users to pay attention to the advertising we put forth?

Strategy 1: Know Who’s Blocking You

Some demographics are more likely than others to download ad-blocking software. Sites catering toward young males (think: video game sites) have more instances of ad blocking than, say, a news site.

Also a site that seems to have no guidelines or standards for ad content may annoy visitors, who will then be more inclined to block ads on that site.

If you understand your demographic and the channels you plan to advertise on, you can make some assumptions about the likelihood of your ad being blocked. Make smart choices about where you invest your advertising dollars. If your audience is that young male, find a different way to reach him.

Strategy 2: Deny Ad-Blockers Access to Your Content

This approach of not permitting users who install ad-blocking software access to premium content may seem harsh, but it sends the right signal: publishers won’t tolerate ad-blocking. The risk with this strategy is, of course, losing paid subscribers if that is your revenue model. So you’ll have to decide: between a paid subscription and ad revenue, which is more valuable to you?

An alternative to this is to offer a freemium subscription that includes ads, then removing them for paid subscribers. This may even have the unintended consequence of boosting subscription revenue!

Strategy 3: Improve the Quality of Your Ads

The prevalence of ad-blocking maneuvers makes one thing clear: the nature of advertising must change. Consumers no longer pay attention to traditional commercial-like ads, so advertisers are forced to get more creative.

Consider how SuperBowl advertisers worked to engage viewers during one of the most-watched sporting events of the year. These are great examples of where advertising is headed: away from being product-centric and toward engaging and delighting an audience. If advertising changes, there will be no need for ad blockers because consumers will be happy to interact with well-designed and well-targeted ads.

Strategy 4: Partner with Publishers Who Have a Solution

If you’re looking to invest your ad spend smartly, naturally you want to avoid working with publishers who have a high instance of users who block ads on their mobile sites. Look for publishers who have a solution to the problem, whether that is to deny users who ad block access to all content or who have stricter requirements for the content of the ads they accept.

Strategy 5: Consider Native Advertising

If it looks and smells like an ad, consumers are more likely to block it. Native advertising, on the other hand, doesn’t resemble what it is, and therefore consumers are more likely to pay attention to it. Another perk? Ad blockers can’t touch it. Native advertising more resembles an article or blog post than a blatant ad, and so there is more value to consumers.

Strategy 6: Test Out Video Advertising

Another alternative to the traditional mobile ad is video advertising. It’s a relatively new genre, and one that is proving worthwhile: video advertising is seeing 34% better retention rates than non-video advertising. With different options to engage users through video ads, like Pre-Roll, Interactive, and Click-to-Play, you can easily test out which is most effective at garnering the results you seek.

The battle between consumers and advertisers rages on. But as one side adopts trends and technology that thwarts the other, it’s important for advertisers to continue to find innovative ways to reach consumers. It’s all about providing value, entertainment, and relevance. If you can provide that, consumers will want to engage with your brand any way they can.