Indeed, “The number of people using ad blockers grew by 41% year over year,” according to a frequently cited PageFair/Adobe report. The forecast also calls for $41 billion in lost revenue by the end of 2016.
Back in August, CMO Brian Wong, CEO and founder of Kiip, a forward-thinking service provider in the mobile moments movement, told CMO.com that ad blocking was “nothing new,” but with consumers’ mobile migration, it was time for “the advertising industry as a whole needs to step up their game if people are going to block less. The key to surviving mobile ad blocking is adding value. Create ads that people want to see and viewers won’t remove you.”
CMO.com recently caught up with Wong for more on how to approach ad blocking as an opportunity, not a threat.
CMO.com: What is the core issue with ad blocking, and why is it happening?
Wong: Ad blocking has been around for Android for some time now, but with Apple’s announcement that iOS 9 will have ad-blocking capabilities in Safari, the issue has surfaced to the forefront of the ad community. To see Apple make this bold move given their iAd business and their own advertising efforts shows their commitment to “consumer first,” which they have always had. Apple is saying to their user, “You should have the choice to not be interrupted and bombarded with ads.”
This is a wake-up call for the marketing and ad industries to realize that the consumer now has the power to vote via ad blocking. The consumer is doing ad blocking for a reason–user experience.It is that simple. This is the time to have a discussion about user experience. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is one.
CMO.com: Is it fair to say that if brands don’t offer a compelling experience on their smartphones, many consumers will shut them down?
Wong: Totally. There is a very important need for brands to strive for advertising experiences that the consumer actually responds to and does not reject. This is an opportunity to try different ad formats and mediums. One way to do this is with native experiences in ad formats … [that are] not perceived by consumers as an ad. Seek alternative engagement mechanisms.
For example, Jessica Alba’s Honest Company recently launched a beauty advice mobile makeover app. Make no mistake: This is advertising. This app helps service their consumers better while Honest sells you beauty and baby products. This is the type of thing I think brands should be thinking more about. There are companies commercially ready now to help you do this at scale. Lazy formats are not going to cut it for you anymore. The old ad approaches may be easy to buy, but you are getting less bang for your buck and may be creating negative brand equity.
CMO.com: Does the ad industry need to develop and scale new measurement metrics for mobile advertising, away from measuring click-through frequency impressions and to measuring mobile engagement?
Wong: Yes. But user experiences on the Net and mobile will need to change. We need to move away from “clickbait title” ads, like we see on BuzzFeed where they are paid based on frequency, and move to measurement metrics that incentivize publishers to provide good content that truly engages consumers. This will be better for everyone. There is an opportunity to use new metrics to redefine the entire Internet experience.
CMO.com: Are we moving in this direction, or is there inertia?
Wong: There is inertia because of mobile. We are seeing more demand for CPE buys on mobile. It is huge. In fact, one of the world’s largest ad agency trading desks, Xaxis, owned by WPP, recently announced their release of a new product called Light Reaction to programmatically buy ads on performance metrics, like cost per engagement and cost per acquisition. This is where the world is moving–more metrics focused on the actual end performance result rather than a consumer just seeing something.
CMO.com: So that means that brands need to start placing their ad dollars with publishers that have these new performance metrics, right?
Wong: Yes. Don’t just blame ad agencies for continuing to do banner ads. The buyers–brands–are contributing to the frequency problem if they keep supporting impression metrics. I don’t think a lot of brand people understand this. I believe there will be mass awareness of this issue very soon. We need to move away from safe metrics, like impressions, to more meaningful metrics for mobile. Even though CPM is still an important metric, gone are the days where CMOs can rest on just this metric. It is their job to understand the impact their brand is having in different mediums.
The laws of physics are different in different mediums, and they should not be treated all the same.
Steven Cook has 25-plus years of Fortune 50 global strategic B2C and B2B omnichannel brand marketing, business development, innovation, and digital and social media experience at P&G, Coca-Cola, and Samsung Electronics, where he was SVP CMO, North America. Cook is also a Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach, and Silicon South digital startup CMO. Cook’s FortuneCMO LLC works with startups, VCs, PEs, and Fortune 1000 companies in branded CPG and tech, durables, lifestyle services, and digital and social media. He currently is the CMO for Champion Capital Group and Forté Ventures. Cook is on the CMO Council Advisory Board. He also mentors entrepreneurs at TiE Atlanta, the local chapter of TiE, the world’s largest entrepreneur network.