Companies aren’t just tracking the prevalence of ad-blockers, they’re also trying to find ways around them.
To capture that audience that is slipping through the ad-blocker-created cracks, companies are changing their business models to encompass other methods that go past the traditional banner and pop-up ads. Advertisers are increasingly turning to mobile to reach potential voters. And while there is an ability to block some ads on mobile devices, it does present prime real estate for advertisers.
“If you look at mobile devices and the majority of ads served, some of them are browser-based," said Jim Walsh, the CEO of DSPolitical, a progressive ad firm that focuses on voter targeting. "But most of the ads served on mobile devices these days are actually on apps. There’s very few that allow you to block ads within the apps, and otherwise, you have to pay for that app. As long as people are forced to see ads inside their apps, rather than pay for the app itself because it is a free app, I’ll always be able to serve ads there.”
Posting “organic” content on social media is also growing avenue to reach supporters, where people can see content published by a campaign that they follow or see content their friends have shared, which has a more effective reach than traditional paid advertising would.
“Facebook and Twitter are still going to be good channels along with LinkedIn and others,” said DeLuca. He also said that “video has a role to play,” while noting video ads are a place “where people can get pretty annoyed, especially if it is autoplay with sound on. That’s literally the worst experience any human can have.”
DeLuca also pointed to sponsored and native content as other ways to reach online consumers, as long as there is a clear definition between advertorials and editorial content.
“It is the classic ‘If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?'” said DeLuca. “The simple answer is: I need to make sure it is making a sound.”
Ad-blocking isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The 2015 PageFair report found that ad-blocking has grown 48 percent in the United States in the last year alone, leaving both publishers and advertisers facing a changing online ad landscape.
Not even mobile phones are entirely insulated from ad-blocking. Android phones have long allowed certain types of ad-blocking, but Apple recently allowed users to download apps that block browser-based banner ads on their iPhones as well.
And certain demographics are more keen to user ad-blockers than others. According to a 2014 Pagefair report, millennials are especially keen to use ad-blockers, with 41 percent saying they used a browser-based ad-blocking software.
But ultimately, consumers avoiding ads isn’t anything new for advertisers. The Reuters Institute report says 30 percent of Americans surveyed just ignore ads. Ad-blocking online may be a growing trend, but avoiding ads isn’t.
“Any advertising platform that you use, the people who don’t want to see the ads are going to find ways to avoid them,” said Anthony Bonna, a senior strategist at the Stoneridge Group, who works with Republican candidates. “With TV, you’ve got TiVo; with print, you have people who just throw the junk mail away. I think there’s now going to be that class on the Internet that tries to avoid ads at all cost.”