Ad Blocking and Useful Ads
by Michael Tan
Ars Technica recently launched an experiment – they started blocking content, as well as ads for users who use ad blockers.
An ad blocker is a browser plugin that blocks advertisements. Users love them because they minimise distractions (no animated / noisy ads) and speeds up the browsing experience (less stuff to load).
Publishers hate them because users get to read content without also using up ad impressions. Most big media sites charge advertisers a CPM (cost per thousand) fee to run their ads and if everyone used ad blockers, they wouldn’t have any ad inventory to sell.
Their solution was to plead with users to make an exception for their site:
“So I’ll end this part of the discussion by just reiterating my point: blocking ads hurts the sites you love. Please consider not blocking ads on those sites. – Ars Technica”
Based on the comments, it seems like this worked for Ars readers.
But, the larger problem still stands.
CPM is a dead model*
By now, it’s clear that CPM is an outdated way of buying and selling online ad inventory. It’s a hold over from old school TV and print advertising, when there was no better solution. Now, we have purely online advertising channels, like paid search, affiliates or other pay for performance channels, that make much more sense for internet advertising.
iPad and media apps.
One of the reasons publishers are excited about the iPad, is that they can monetise their content in the form of paid for apps and subscriptions. People do pay for apps that repackage the same content that they can get online. The other benefit is that Apple’s closed system means that ad blockers aren’t really available.
Make useful ads.
To my mind, the core of the problem is that most banner ads simply aren’t useful to consumers. They try to distract you when you’re doing something else, with animation, flashing colours and noises. No wonder people block them.
I think the solution is to make useful ads. Easier said than done right? Well, here’s some ideas:
Contextual Advertising eg: Adwords
Google makes $28 billion a year by offering useful ads. Adwords lets advertisers reach users who are actively searching for something, and from a user’s point of view, it’s not just an ad, but potentially useful information. I know loads of people just ignore PPC ads, but personally, if I’m looking for something commercial (ie, want to buy something), I find them tremendously userful.
Money Saving eg: Vouchers
My new favourite marketing tool. Vouchers, discounts and offers have been around literally forever – because they work. For users, vouchers offer a tangible saving, and they feel like they get a good deal. And for the marketer, it’s simply another way to spend their marketing budget. Perfect.