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Blocking Programs

  • What consequences for digital marketing?

One of the main obstacles digital marketing is facing regards the increasingly frequent use of filters and browser extensions to block the online advertising ads.  

Utilities like Adfender, Ublock  and above all Adblock Plus are more and more used by users to block and remove ads and advertising banners that appears during navigation. If, from the point of view of the common person this tools can be viewed like a ‘’lifesaving’’, for digital marketing operators and for the portals they represent a serious economic damage.

The number of users that utilize these programs, according to a research of Adobe and PageFair, grew up to more than 200 million people, about the 7% of the 2,8 billions users that regularly adoperate the web.

Despite it might appear like a trivial percentage, data about this business growth cause increasing preoccupations among those who work and live with digital marketing: at the end on 2014, the users of AdBlock Plus were ‘’only’’ 144 millions, increasing by 38% in just an year, with the number of downloads that rise regularly every year by 41% (only in Italy they block the 16,4% of the ads).

The estimated damages in 2015 towards online advertising were about 22 billion dollars (6,6 only towards Google.)

The situation is even worst if we think that AdBlock Plus has become available also as browser for Android and IOS, developing customised versions of Firefox and Kitt.

What are the risk that programs like AdBlock Plus can actually cause to the digital marketing?

First of all, risks of revenue reduction, closure or failure: the lack of visualization (and the consequent missed interaction with the ads), will provoke a fall in the companies’ revenues, for agencies and digital editors.

Internet sites that live only with online advertising might be forced to closed, due to the impossibility to reach their unique source of income, and web marketing companies will lack their main business, risking to go towards failure.

AdBlock cause already nowadays serious tracking problems for what concern users movements, making difficult to obtain a detailed and effective result of the campaigns. For example, with the ‘’Disable tracking’’  function users can already make instruments like cookies being ineffective. Another element that cannot be underestimated is the obligation for internet sites to accept the policy of Eyeo, the society AdBlock belongs to, in order to be inserted in the whitelist.

The obligation to enter within the parameters of the Acceptable Ads Manifesto of Eyeo will inevitably force digital marketing agencies, and also the portals to a complete revision of their advertising instruments, to make the announcements ‘’ tolerable'' by AdBlock, with high costs of change and conversion.

At the same time there’s the risk to create dangerous coalitions between the main Internet companies; according to the Adobe research, the online business ‘’giants’’ (Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others) might reach an agreement with Eyeo and pay a fee to be included in its whitelist.

This solution might cause a double damage to the digital marketing sector: the actual rates will be payable only by biggest companies, excluding all the smaller sites, unleashing an auction to conquer the few spaces available, with costs that will rise to the stars.; Eyeo might also obtain a dominant position, acquiring the control of online advertising.

Are there some solutions to avoid the effects of programs like AdBlock Plus, without being forced to pay a fee? The answer is yes.

At the moment an effective solution, at least for video advertising, is the one implemented by Google for Youtube, which is to integrate the ads in the videos, making them appear like a part of the same, bypassing AdBlock parameters. Moreover, Google will allow users to avoid these ads, except for those who have AdBlock installed, forcing them to insert Youtube in their personal whitelist.

The implementation of native advertising appears nowadays like an effective method to bypass the blocks. Native advertising is the complete integration of advertising contents with the webpages, making them appear like an integrated part of them, without annoying the user’s navigation. This mimetic nature confuses the plug-in of AdBlock, making them difficult to block.

Another simple and effective solutions, comes from PageFair, an Irish startup that proposes to operators analytic instruments to understand who are the users that block their ads, trying change their mind.

Practically, it offers instruments to track the blocks and allows the visualization of a pop-up (despite the presence of AdBlock), where the operator explain the economic damage of similar software, asking the user to include the website in the whitelist.

Watching the future scenario, the increasing use of AdBlock Plus, might bring the digital advertising world to a new evolution phase, with more and more integration between the ads and the webpages, without interfering with navigation.

This sector might then evolve towards the creation of more ‘’tolerable’’ contents, developing an advertising methods that perfectly hybrids contextual contents and advertising ads.

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