Ad blocking

Stop whining about ad blocking and think bigger

A little over a month ago, Apple released a beta version of its most recent software update, iOS9, at their conference for app developers. The update immediately grabbed the tech and advertising media’s attention with one small update: the ability for developers to create ad blocking software for the mobile Safari browser.

The update doesn’t affect apps, nor does it affect users surfing on other browsers on their iPhones. However, by introducing this capability, Apple could be cutting into millions of dollars of ad revenue profits for media outlets, and even Google.

But ad blocking isn’t a thing of the future. In fact, Adblock Plus, a popular content filtering and ad blocking extension for multiple desktop browsers, has been operating since 2006. Although once used by a fringe minority, Adblock Plus has finally gone mainstream.

For example, according to PageFair and Adobe, the number of Adblock Plus users grew from 54 million in January 2013 to 144 million in June 2014, and that number is expected to continue growing. Google has already felt the effects, with a calculated loss of $6.6 billion in 2014. And now ad blocking is going mobile, a $28.7 billion industry.

So, what does this mean for marketers? Should we collectively bemoan and rage against the changing tides? Should we argue the ethical and legal implications of ad blocking?

Or, should we get creative?

We should do what we are always talking about: creating great content for our brands’ consumers that they actually want to be a part of. Content that they actually want to engage with directly. If we make content that’s interesting enough, we won’t have to worry about people blocking it.

It’s time to jump ahead of the curve and dare to be different. It’s time to experiment with the big ideas rather than the safe ones.

Take the innovative way that brands are using Snapchat to directly and immediately engage with followers. Red Bull is one of the top players in the game, leveraging its more than 4 million social followers to promote their live stories from various sponsored events across the country. Furthering the allure, Red Bull’s Snapchat is routinely “taken over” by various skateboarders, snowboarders, and other extreme sports athletes showing the events through their eyes and with their personal flare.

Direct. Immediate. Engaging. Isn’t that what we want?

The point is, you can’t block brilliance. More importantly, why would anyone want to?

What do you think are the implications of ad blockers? What are some of your solutions? Do you think it affects marketers at all?