The last month has seen a lot of controversy with regard to a free internet. This is not referring to freedom of information, a whole other minefield, but the cost of visiting the vast majority of websites.
The recently released iOS 9 allowed advert blocking software to be integrated with Safari for the first time, a significant development. With around 500 million iPhones having been sold, quite apart from the millions of iPads, being able to block ads on Safari is a marketer’s nightmare – it is another reason why marketers may move away from display advertising.
Like them or not, display adverts are often the difference between a website being a paid for subscription-style service or a free to visit website – certainly the case with YouTube. And ad blocking software is a threat to marketers spending their budget in this way.
So, is the issue that people just need to accept advertising and (dare I say) be grateful that the marketing community is keeping the internet (relatively) free of charge?
One of the issues that has not been addressed is why ad blocking software exists in the first place. Users of the web feel that the majority of online adverts are:
- Intrusive – you are quite happily browsing before an advert APPEARS AND STARTS SHOUTING AT YOU
- Irritating – visiting one website does not give that website the right to chase you round the internet for a month still talking about the same page that you visited
- Poorly targeted – products are at best irrelevant or at worst inappropriate to the target audience
So it’s no surprise that people are trying to block this content, is it?
We in the marketing community needs to accept responsibility for ad blocking software – to a large degree it is a tool of our own making because of the terrible adverts that are run. And I see it as our issue to sort out.
Marketers need to focus on using display advertising as an inbound marketing tool: well designed, well targeted, complimentary to the environment where the advert is being placed and relevant – is advertising the right tool to use for this objective? Not all of these are easy to do, but this is the challenge facing marketers.
Unless this issue is rectified primarily by those working in marketing, the internet will become more and more hidden behind paywalls, a threat to the very freedom of information on the web.