Death To Digital Advertising

I had an interesting conversation with a full-time digital advertiser this weekend. We discussed what is currently happening with ad blocking around the web and on mobile devices. As marketers and advertisers, we realize this is an important discussion to have, but we were also certain that we don't know how it will end up. 

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For now, here's what we do know:

  • Desktop web users can install ad blocking plugins for their browsers. This is usually only carried out by very advanced web users. This is also nothing new since it's been around for a few years now.
  • Both the App Store and the Android Store now have an official approved "Ad Blocker" web browser for mobile browsing. The app is free, and if promoted enough, offers something most mobile phone users will find interesting enough to test out. 
  • There are arguments such as this that suggest the technology isn't ready yet. Therefore, the claim is that ad blocking is not here to stay on mobile devices... yet. 

Still, my conversation had us joking about switching professions. Isn't the optimization of browsing experiences going to become personalized eventually? I argued that many users would even pay to avoid ads.

But then we realized that even if that did happen, advertising has always evolved over the years. This wouldn't be the demise of an industry. In fact, this is its opportunity to get smarter. 

Let's really think about the repercussions here. What is actually "an advertisement?" The way it's referred to all of the above instances, it's a piece of content served by a third party trying to target a user. The only part that would be missing from this equation is the "served" part. Therefore, "getting smart" means integrating touch points in different customer flows moving forward. 

  • Advertisers will find different ways to serve content to users. 
  • Users will begin to appreciate the improved targeting and storytelling being observed.

I see this "ad blocking" as a minor speedbump speedbump on a long distance roadway. Once the industry lands on four wheels again, our inventive minds will normalize the ways we reach consumers. And the best part is, consumers will be more accepting of it than ever before.