Ad Blocker Adoption Drives Mobile App Development | Modis US

Ad Blocker Adoption Drives Mobile App Development

Modis Posted 23 May 2016

The latest research from Tune suggests that up to 70% of mobile users are either currently blocking ads or are interested in an app that will eliminate ads. Digital marketers are understandably worried, given that the same report predicts that 80% of users will have ad blockers installed on their devices by the end of 2017.

Ads are used to generate revenue by placing brands, products, and services in front of those who may be interested. Most importantly, the use of ads allows a company to offer free content (whether text or multimedia) and services such as email, social media, cloud storage, and more. When all ads are blocked, content and service offerings will be affected. The end result is not desired: users paying for access to all websites and for many of the services we currently take for granted, whether it's Dropbox, Facebook, or other websites.

Revenue or Audience?

In the online world, users are always seeking something for nothing and many fail to see the importance of ad support as a means of generating revenue. Unfortunately, in many ways, marketers encouraged the rise of the ad blocker by saturating web pages with a wide variety of ads. Popups, popunders, audio, and video ads dominate many websites and in the mobile world, data traffic costs money.

In fact, it has become so bad that page load times and overall user experience is affected, which is even more annoying when the displayed ads are irrelevant to the user or totally unrelated to the page content. When reading a story on technology, how interested are you in purchasing a condo in Florida?

This is where digital marketing has failed us, by 'clever' use of geolocation info and user tracking rather than producing content relevant to the page you are viewing. The use of VPNs, for example, eliminates the relevance of location for ad generation. Business travelers are also aware of the limitations of geolocation, with all ads in the language of the country they are in. Whatever happened to the simple “use the language of the installed OS"?

2018 Tech Trends

Did you say 'relevance'?

Big Data has many applications but when used incorrectly, the ads produced are often irrelevant. Smart data uses analytics that can accurately provide contextual ads that are of interest, using evolving algorithms that changes along with our interests. For relevant ad placement, digital marketers, regardless of industry, will require analytics experts and data scientists. For large brands or enterprises, it is likely that a specialist in machine learning, swarm computing, and artificial intelligence will be part of the mix.

Making ads more relevant is one thing, but it still doesn't solve other user issues - the ones ad blockers solve. Obviously, if the ads are annoying or affect performance, they are blocked. The onus is on digital marketers and mobile app developers to work together to maximize the user experience. Without fundamental technical changes that can only be implemented by those with the technical knowhow, ad blockers will become part of a user's standard toolkit. These changes include but are not limited to:

  • Choice: If users do not want ads, they should be able to opt out. In some apps, this prevents user access or requires a paid subscription. Either way, the user makes the decision.
  • Incentives: If users decide to opt in, there should be a reward system in the form of virtual points that are later redeemed for products or services or in the form of privileged access to additional content.
  • Performance: If multimedia is used, page load time is not affected.
  • Distraction: Ads should never detract from the user experience and placement should never interfere with a site or app function.

Black and White Lists?

Most ad blockers will allow you to whitelist specific websites and apps, blacklist being the default. The result is that quality offerings are not impacted by ad blockers in any perceivable way., for example will detect the use of an ad blocker and request that the blocker is turned off for site access. Most will comply, given the quality content contained within. Their reward? 30 days of reduced ads before normal service resumes. In any cases, ads on the site are not intrusive and do not affect performance.

As Tim Gentry, global revenue director at Guardian News & Media, said in Marketing Week, “Part of the solution is offering fewer adverts of higher quality that appear in trusted environments. If the industry can collectively adopt this mind-set we can avoid a technical arms race to weave our way around ad blockers which benefits no one."

As the entire digital marketing industry is aware of the need for change, we can certainly expect many employment opportunities in the areas of mobile ad and app development that will address the expectations of tech-savvy users. Companies are also producing their own proprietary apps to communicate directly with their clients and partners. In fact, the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 19% growth in employment for application developers by 2024, which is more than all other occupations and makes mobile app developers highly sought after in an industry with global skill shortages.

With their efforts and a willing response from digital marketers, perhaps ads and ad blockers can exist in harmony on mobile devices with users only blocking ads that do not meet logical guidelines.

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