Is Ad Blocking a Problem or a Solution?

I read a post by Bob Hoffman, the writer of Ad Contrarian, which had a simple but powerful sentence that resonated with me.

Maybe I’m a little slow, but it seems to me that there are about 1,000 people on the planet to whom ad blocking is problem and about 7 billion to whom it’s a solution.
— Bob Hoffman

I hate to break it to those who are in love with the industry, but if we look at a brief history of advertising, it becomes apparent very quickly that the overwhelming majority of people simply do not like it.

Here are a few examples of advertising vs. response:

  • Television -> DVR, Tivo, etc.

  • Radio -> Podcasts

  • Display banners -> Ad blockers

  • Native Advertising -> ...Frustration...

  • Social Media (Paid) Advertising -> ...Frustration...

I use the word frustration because these are areas in which people are working on solutions similar to those in TV, radio and display. Here is a cherry-picked chart to illustrate the exact point I'm trying to make.

In the near future, you will have to decide if you want to be an organization that:

  1. Is increasingly dependent on the ability to track individuals through new and innovative ways.

  2. Is looking for the next cutting edge form of advertising which will disrupt the ad industry!!!

  3. Is less dependent on ad tech and is actively creating a fan base by offering products and services which people can't stop talking about.

Fitting into the #1 category means you will be using some of the latest and "greatest" ad tech. You will be constantly trying to interrupt a massive population (which is still growing) from what they're doing online.

If you are in the #2 category, you're probably delusional. Someone in this category once told me, "the pop-up ad was the greatest invention of its time" because while "it is annoying, it got your attention." I don't think I need to comment on this.

The #3 category definitely requires the most work but will have the largest payoff. There is no clearcut road map for success - otherwise everyone would be doing it! As all of us in the marketing industry know, longterm success isn't based off of how cool your advertisements are.

I'm happy to speak about measurement strategies with the aspiring #3 people! The analytics are simple to understand but tricky to implement into an organization.