Frederic Joseph: why ad blocking is good for you – really

Apple’s decision to support ad blocking on its browser, Safari, has dominated the marketing columns since it was announced a couple of weeks ago. It would be easy for advertisers to descend into a blind panic about ad blockers signifying the end of the ad funded model, but is that really the right reaction?

It would be easy feel like the whole world, and Apple in particular, is against mobile advertising but this decision has brought the industry to a welcome crossroads. We either sulk and carry on as we did before or use this as the perfect time to take stock and review how we can do things better.

Lets remind ourselves why we do what we do. It is vital to keep the user experience front of mind. Because we live and breath the industry, it is easy to overlook how we feel about advertising as a user. Surely I am not alone by being annoyed with irrelevant adverts or pop-ups that are impossible to close without clicking through to the landing page?
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In other words, it’s time to up our game. It’s challenging those of us working in the industry to raise the bar, and by doing so we’ll be able to deliver more engaging, user friendly advertising experiences which audiences genuinely enjoy.

Now is the time to deliver less but better. Quality over quantity. This will produce a better advertising ecosystem for everybody. Advertisers should be more selective over their formats choosing those which are targeted through credible, real-time data to deliver high impact content. Publishers should choose to host fewer formats which deliver higher effective cost per thousand impressions rather than featuring dozens of ad units on a page.

With users demanding ad-free mobile browsing and more targeted offers, in-app ad experiences that take advantage of mobile user information such as geolocation targeting in real time should be the main focus of advertisers. Even without mobile browser ads, the opportunity still exists for quality mobile ad experiences and for advertisers to implement their existing mobile strategy like conversion funnel tracking and retargeting.

Greater transparency in the sector will also help. Many ad platforms launched in the past weren’t built with transparency in mind. This wasn’t out of ill intent but because transparency simply hadn’t evolved to the degree has now. That said, while it is becoming a key part of the advertising vernacular, there remains a huge amount to be done to ensure ads reach the right device and the right operating system at the right time. We conducted a study recently on a sample of one billion mobile ad impressions across 30 campaigns, which revealed a huge loss of $10bn to advertisers through a lack of ad transparency.

So while Apple’s mobile ad browser blocking is bad news for those who advertise in the browser and also for Google (and everyone else) who uses cookies, the decision is great for the consumer and thus for mobile overall. Players like Facebook who already provide robust in-app advertising experiences monetise superbly from this format and the opportunity is there for many others to take advantage of advertising on mobile in a more consumer-receptive fashion.

While the impact of ad blockers will be reduced for advertisers with proprietary software and who benefit from expertise in targeting, retargeting and optimising in app., it is vital that mobile ad formats are both built and bought with the user in mind. Using real-time data is an absolute must, as is the possibility to skip. By using formats, which are genuinely targeted and allow user engagement it will be easy to bring audiences back on board

It might not seem to be the case on first examination – but the ad blocking trend really is the best thing to happen to the industry this century.

picfredjoFrederic Joseph is COO of ad tech platform S4M.

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