Ad blocking technology may be a positive because it encourages marketers and ad agencies to be more relevant and improves the overall experience of the Internet
Although South Africa has yet to feel the same impact of ad blocking being suffered elsewhere, the local advertising and marketing industry should not necessarily regard it as the big bad digital wolf that some fear will soon kill off the concept of the ‘free’ Internet.
Indeed, rather than taking advertising revenue from digital platforms, ad blocking could be one of the best things to happen to online marketing, reports the April-May 2016 issue of ‘Strategic Marketing’ magazine, the publication of the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM). This is because it encourages marketers and agencies to be more relevant, compels publishers to reduce clutter and develop other streams of venue, and improves the overall experience of the Internet.
“It is not just that agencies and their clients need to respond to the threat of ad blockers,” says Gillian Rightford, Managing Director of communication consultancy Adtherapy, in an interview with the magazine. “The entire digital advertising platform needs a shake-up. Too much online advertising is the result of simply emulating other forms of more traditional advertising. The quality of advertising is poor and it does not work. Ad blockers might just be what we need to accelerate the move to a new, vastly improved approach.”
Advertising commentator Andy Rice agrees and says the anxiety around ad blocking is similar to concerns raised a decade ago when PVRs (personal video recorders) were introduced. “People worried that, because it allows viewers to skip commercials, advertisers would not be able to rely on television. [Instead], it meant advertisers had to work harder to engage audiences. That is what needs to happen with online advertising.”
Research conducted earlier this year found that 9,9% of SA Internet users are active ad blockers, which is low for a nation of this size.