Ad blocking started as a means of protecting personal information and reducing the amount of disruptive ad clutter while online. Now, it’s all a big scam. Ad blocking companies are reaping the benefits of this new technology by allowing ads to be unblocked if marketers pay up. They cleverly call it their “whitelisting program”, which allows users to opt-in in to see a list of ads that have been pre-approved by the company.
This is not what users signed up for and they are now hard-pressed to pay into ad-free subscription services. There’s always a price for everything and with over 198 million active ad block users around the world, that’s a lot of green. So, as an agency, we make sure to incorporate the following best practices in digital communications to engage consumers in a way that makes ad blocking irrelevant:
- Can we ingratiate your product in pre-existing content that’s not disruptive? Everyone hates being interrupted so look for avenues that are endemic to the environment. Whether that is native advertising or sponsored articles, the content should be a natural flow to what consumers are already interested in.
- Can we engage consumers in the digital/mobile space without it being an “ad”? When we worked with Van Heusen to help consumers vote for their choice in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it had nothing to do with a web banner but rather an experience that involved a website, bloggers, events and social media tactics.
- Is there an incentive for the target to participate? Develop content such as contests, giveaways, discounts, and experiences that entice users to engage with the brand. We recently created an evite for an event that offered free beer on Saint Patrick’s Day during March Madness. It doesn’t have to be rocket science to be effective.
- Is it an extension of what consumers want? While 84% of Millennials said they do not like advertising nor do they trust it, if the content is authentic, 80% will keep coming back as a loyal customer. Consumers don’t want to be marketed to, but rather they want to connect with brands with content that fits their lifestyle.
- Where is the message coming from? People trust other people over brands. Over half (51%) of Americans trust user-generated content more than information from brands. Partner with influencers or organizations that can help spread the message.
- Can we leverage geo-targeting in a way that’s useful to consumers? We recently launched a program where auto buyers can get our client’s pricing information for cars when they are on a competitor’s lot nearby. Serve up content at the right time and place and consumers will be more receptive.
- Can we create a new user experience that’s enjoyable? Whether it’s a video for our software client or an interactive experience like StackMeUp.com, people want to be entertained and enlightened. Create content that the consumer will interactive with willingly.
- Are we focused on quality over quantity? Brands need to invest in developing smarter creative and higher quality experiences that will better grab the attention and connect with the audience. According to Forbes (2016), 42% of Millennials consider high quality important when buying from a brand. Over the long term, you’ll win over more customers if you make a strong impact intermittently, rather than blasting a steady stream of noise.
- Can we take advantage of new technology? The deeper immersions into multi-sensory experiences is taking off with 360-degree video on Facebook and YouTube, virtual reality systems, as well as live streaming services like Meerkat and Periscope.
- Is there a way to promote social responsibility? According to Nielsen, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that come from brands that are committed to a positive social and environmental impact. Can we include an initiative or program that is a natural extension of the brand?
- (Bonus!) Is there a way for users to find your content organically? This may seem obvious, but so many clients think that if you build it, people will come. The digital landscape is crowded and you need to drive traffic with an arsenal of media tools. Proper search engine optimization will allow consumers to find your content exactly when they’re looking for it, which will make your brand far more relevant.
Any of these best practices can help build a content strategy that not only gets around ad blocking but also creates an overall better user experience.