Of the many changes affecting marketers in 2015, one of the most significant is ad blocking. With almost 200 million active ad-block users globally, ad blocking is projected to cost publishers $22 billion in advertising revenue this year alone.
Digital advertisements have never been popular with consumers, but now Apple has done something about improving the online experience. The technology giant's newest iOS 9 software supports ad blocking Safari extensions, allowing consumers to remove unwanted ad content.
This aggressive move is simply a reaction to consumers' rejection of intrusive online advertisements. When a chat window or popup impedes researching and purchasing online, it disrupts an organic shopping experience. Naturally, customers have grown annoyed with digital ads.
Even as ad-blocking apps continue to reflect the growth of that trend and begin to more routinely block content such as trackers, scripts, and traditional digital advertisements, marketers nevertheless still have to drive campaigns that reach consumers.
The best strategy for doing so is to create better content that digital shoppers truly enjoy. It's a simple solution: If users block ads they don't want, we have to offer them ads they do want.
To improve the relationship between online shoppers and ads, marketers should identify when and why consumers turn away. With that information as their guide, marketers can create ads that do not automatically get blocked.
1. Provide valuable content
For many digital users, dealing with ads does not seem worthwhile. Such a small percentage of ads offer useful information, that blocking them entirely is justifiable.
To better engage shoppers, marketers must serve ads that demonstrate value in the form of additional offers. Building brand awareness is not enough; ad remain pointless if users read them but still do not engage. With every digital campaign, marketers can include additional offerings in their ad copy to push users toward real action. Only then can click-through rates, site visits, and even phone calls be earned.
Nor do additional offerings have to be complex. For example, marketers can include in ads discounts unavailable elsewhere, sales prices, unique product information, or store phone numbers. When such dynamic content is used strategically, those pieces of additional information give advertisements fresh value.
Especially when aligned with product promotions or seasonal shopping trends, such simple additional content can make an ad even more relevant to shoppers.
When shoppers are exposed to ads with value that cannot be found on a brand's site, they will be more likely to engage, click, and see future ads as something worthwhile.
2. Create tailored copy
Another reason users avoid advertisements is that ads lack personalized content. A generic ad will not catch the consumer's eye, and it can condition them to avoid future ads in expectation of the same unhappy experience.
To create better content, marketers need personalization: More than half of consumers find ads with personalization more educational, and over one-third see them as more memorable.
Personalization is more often incorporated into online shopping and researching, but marketers need to us it in advertisements, too. Marketers can analyze shoppers' Web browsing behaviors or purchase histories to individualize ad content.
For example, if a user has recently been looking for brown boots, marketers can serve back those product pages through a mix of display and search advertisements across multiple digital channels, driving engagement from multiple angles.
3. Encourage user action
In addition to serving up additional offerings and personalized content, advertisements first and foremost need to be actionable.
Perhaps more than any other advertising feature, irrelevance annoys consumers and pushes them to block all ads. For example, if a car dealership continually serves users an ad outside of their geographic location or price range, there will be little reason for those users to continue receiving ads from that same dealer in the future.
Despite the availability of technologies that allow marketers to match ads to shoppers, many marketers use unreliable geolocation strategies. Marketers should instead be looking at demographic information gathered through monitored shopping behavior. With such data, marketers can be certain that the ads they serve to shoppers make sense—and will drive action.
Marketers must also consider their inventories when creating ads. No shopper should ever engage with an ad only to find that the offer no longer exists, which means that marketers have to keep their inventories current, in real time.
* * *
Challenges can be difficult to accept, but overcoming them often leads to better results. The same can be said about ad blocking and marketers; as marketers begin to find ways to counter ad blocking technology, they will learn to make stronger, more engaging content with clear value for consumers.
With the right blend of additional offers, personalization, and actionable content, ad campaigns can find success.
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