What Happened Eyeo GmbH, the company behind the popular adblocker Adblock Plus, is launching an ad exchange called Acceptable Ads Platform, enabling publishers to “choose from a marketplace of pre-whitelisted ads that they can drag and drop onto their sites.” The platform, which Eyeo created in partnership with ad tech firm ComboTag, promises to cut the whitelisting process from weeks to seconds. Advertisers will also be able to buy the whitelisted ad space through Google’s and AppNexus’ ad exchanges. (Update 9/14: Google and AppNexus have withdrawn their involvement in this effort.)
Why Brands Should Care This new ad exchange offers brand advertisers a way to reach adblocker users, which is especially valuable for brands seeking specific audience segments where adblocker usage is high, such as young Millenials, high-earners, and the tech-savvy. While the irony of an ad-blocking software company selling ads itself is not lost, this development nevertheless highlights the ongoing tension between advertisers, publishers, and adblocker makers as they fight for control over the online ad experience.
What Happened After signing deals with Caribbean mobile carrier Digicel and European carrier Three Group, Israel-based ad-blocking firm Shine is now reaching a new continent as it strikes a deal with Econet, an African wireless service provider with 40 million subscribers across Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi, and Lesotho. Econet will install Shine’s ad-blocking technology, which wipes out all in-app and mobile web ads at the carrier network level, for all of its subscribers. Econet is required by government regulations to provide a choice for customers to opt in or out of Shine’s service.
What Brands Need To Do Shine’s network-level ad blocker prevents most mobile ads from loading, causing severe issues for digital publishers and, to a lesser extent, to online advertisers and brands that rely on reaching customers via mobile platforms. It remains to be seen if more carriers will pick up this practice, but the fact that three global mobile carriers have been willing to give Shine a try speaks to a larger trend of consumers being fed up with the subpar ad experiences currently plaguing mobile sites and apps.
Therefore, brands need to take a proactive approach to deal with consumers’ growing aversion to ads. One good way to do so is to explore new formats of digital ads, such as sponsoring online events and livestreams and producing branded content. Also, since Shine’s software won’t affect in-feed ads on social networks for now, brands may consider increasing their social ad spend. For more information on how brands can fight the increasing usage of ad-blockers, check out the Ad Avoidance section in our Outlook 2016.
What Happened Shine, an ad blocker that operates on carrier network level, is reportedly looking to charge brands for showing ads on those networks. The company has hired its first Chief Revenue Officer as it seeks to introduce a new feature that charges brands and agencies for letting their ads be seen on sites and apps. Shine has already struck deals with Caribbean carrier Digicel and Europe’s Three Group to wipe out all mobile ads for about 100 million phone subscribers by default unless they opt in to see ads.
What Brands Need To Do While it remains to be seen if Shine will be picked up by more carriers and how much damage it may cause, it seems likely that this paid-whitelisting approach would make a dent in regional ad buyers’ digital budgets. As we pointed out in our previous write-ups about Shine, when it comes to dealing with the rise of ad blockers, brands need to be pre-emptive by developing new communications strategies and try to reach customers via sponsorships and branded content instead. Also, since Shine’s software won’t affect in-feed ads on social networks, brands may consider increasing their social ad spend.
What Happened By the end of next year, about a third of internet users in the States will be blocking ads, up from 20% in 2015, according to a recent eMarketer study (paywalled link). The study, which defines an ad-blocker user as “an internet user who accesses the internet at least once a month via any device that has an ad-blocker enabled,” also estimates that 26.3% of U.S. netizens are using an ad blocker this year. The silver lining here, however, seems to be that the growth rate of ad-blocker users is gonna slow down a bit, declining from 35% to 24% next year.
For brand advertisers, this means two things. First, brands need to work closely with agencies and media owners to take full advantage of the digital tools available to create leaner ads, deliver a less clustered ad experience, and ensure the viewability of their ads. Second, brands should also try exploring some non-conventional ad formats such as event sponsorships, branded content, or native advertising to reach consumers who have opted to block ads.
What Happened In February, we noted that Israeli-based, ad tech startup Shine formed a partnership with Three Group, a British wireless carrier that also operates in select European markets such as Italy and Denmark, to help the latter block in-app and mobile browser ads at the network level. Today, the Berkshire, U.K.-based carrier announced it is moving forward with the initiative, planning to call for interested customers to sign up for the trial, which will take place in mid-June. For Three, the decision to move forward with the testing is about appealing to consumers’ increasing frustration with mobile ads as well as their growing demand for privacy and reducing data usage.
What Brands Need To Do If widely implemented, ad-blocking at the network level would prevent most mobile ads from loading, causing severe issues for digital publishers and, to a lesser extent, to online advertisers and brands that rely on reaching customers via mobile platforms. While it remains to be seen whether other carriers will pick up this practice, brands need to take a proactive approach in dealing with the rise of ad-blockers. One good way to do so is to explore new formats of digital ads, such as sponsoring online events and livestreams and producing branded content. Also, since Shine’s software won’t affect in-feed ads on social networks, brands may consider increasing their social ad spend.
What Happened As the usage of ad-blockers continues to rise, publishers have been trying out various methods to persuade users to turn them off. Now the Washington Post is trying a new instant-loading ad product that it believes will deliver a better user experience. The new ad product, named Fuse, offers in-article banner ads that instantly expand into near-fullscreen, interactive pop-up ads when they are clicked. The Fuse ads are “pre-cached” and hosted by the Washington Post, so they will have significantly less latency in rendering than most digital ads, especially on mobile devices. Upon launch, the Washington Post has limited Fuse ads to sponsored content, but says it will be expanded to display and video ads soon.
What Brands Need To Do This new ad product offers an example of how publishers are trying to deal with the rise of ad-blocker usage by improving the ad experience. More importantly, the Fuse ads point to a workaround for full-page interactive ads that are usually oversized and take a long time to render, providing a way for brand advertisers to engage with interested consumers without losing them due to a lagging ad experience. Therefore, brand marketers need to work with publishers to try out fast-loading ad products to make sure their ads are actually being delivered in a consumer-friendly way.
What Happened The ad-blocking wars are exacerbated as ad-blocking startup Shine announced a new partnership with Three Group, a British wireless carrier that also operates a network in Italy, to block in-app and mobile browser ads at the network level. This marks the first entry of the Israeli-based ad-blocking company in European market, after it signed with Caribbean telecom service provider Digicel last year. Currently, Shine does not offer a way for ad platforms or publishers to pay to gain access to a whitelist.
What Brands Need To Do It goes without saying that, if popularized, ad-blocking at a network level would be quite devastating to the mobile advertising industry, as well as the brands that rely on reaching customers via mobile platforms. For now, it remains to be seen if more carriers would partner with Shine and adopt ad-blocking at the network level to appeal to consumers’ increasing frustration with mobile ads. Nevertheless, brands need to be pre-emptive in the fight against ad avoidance by developing new communications strategies and try to reach customers via sponsorships and branded content instead.
What Happened As the usage of ad-blockers continues to grow, some online publishers, such as Forbes, GQ, and most recently Wired, are fighting back by denying access to their content and asking readers to turn off ad-blockers. So it’s only a matter of time before someone makes a browser extension that can block the anti-adblock technologies those sites employ. Available now on GitHub, this “Anti-Adblock Killer” is compatible with all major browsers and promises users the ability to click through websites that would normally deny their access while keeping their ad-blockers on.
What Brands Need To Do While it remains to be seen whether this Anti-Adblock Killer will catch on, its arrival nevertheless signals an acceleration in the market trend of ad avoidance where consumers are actively trying to avoid ads by enabling ad-blockers or turning to ad-free subscription services, making it harder for brands to reach mobile consumers. Therefore, brands need to provide added value to their marketing in order to earn consumer attention.
What Happened Samsung has joined Apple in supporting ad-blocking capability in its mobile web browser. The company started pushing out an update for Samsung Internet, the default browser on Samsung phones, to devices with Android Marshmallow starting today. With the updated browser, Samsung users can now download third-party content-blocking apps – some of which made their debut last year on iOS 9 – and get an ad-free experience in Samsung Internet.
What Brands Need To Do Samsung’s addition came nearly five months after ad-blockers flooded the App Store’s top chart when iOS 9 was released in September, but for Samsung users, it’s better late than never. Android devices now boast over 1.4 billion users worldwide, and Samsung is the No.1 seller of Android phones. Bringing ad-blockers to Samsung devices will no doubt give their usage a further boost, making it harder for brands to reach mobile consumers. Therefore, brands need to provide added value to their marketing in order to earn consumer attention.
What Brands Need To Do While Brave is certainly not the first browser to come with ad-blocking features, its innovative approach of replacing intrusive ads with sanctioned ones points to an interesting direction for web browsers and web business models. It remains to be seen whether future browsers would start absorbing certain functions of ad exchange platforms and become the gatekeeper for consumer data and privacy. But one thing is clear with the introduction of Brave – consumers are getting smarter with their personal data and seeking new ways to avoid being bombarded by ads. Therefore, brands need to start providing real value with their brand messages in order to earn consumer attention or risk being blocked.
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