Apple recently announced they will make it possible for developers to block web page ads on the company’s newest mobile browser, Safari for iOS 9. While advertising is the primary target, Apple admits that content blocking “gives your extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups and other content.” Yikes.
Some industry-watchers speculate that Apple’s motive in allowing developers to block ads and other content may be less of an altruistic effort to protect user privacy and more about focusing your attention on their own News app’s iAds. Regardless, Apple is reflecting user sentiment with this latest option.
A growing number of individuals are implementing ad blocking apps on their own. Last year, a PageFair study revealed that more than a quarter of American internet users now use ad blocking software, up 69% from the year before. Millennials (18- 29-year-olds) are leading the charge, notes the study, with 41% of them claiming to use ad blockers. They say they are especially turned off by ads that get between them and their desired content.
Marketers are concerned.
Ad blocking has become both frustrating and worrisome for many small businesses that rely heavily on online advertising to promote their wares or services. Online ads not only help you generate leads and make sales, they enable you to capture valuable data about prospects who respond. Losing out on these opportunities could be life-threatening to a business.
But while the ability to gather deep details about web users may be a goldmine for marketers, a growing number of consumers don’t want to get that “up close and personal,” and they don’t want to be interrupted by online ads any more than they do by TV ads, as the PageFair study showed.
If your marketing audience includes a sizeable portion of millennials, have you noticed a substantial drop recently in your ability to reach that segment? If so, that could be due to ad blocking, since this is the age group most likely to do use blockers. Unfortunately, it may also be a vitally important revenue-generating population for your businesses.
The solution: a holistic approach.
There is no need to panic and dump your online advertising. Managed properly, it can still be a productive marketing tactic, but it should be just one tactic among many. Your company needs to adopt a comprehensive inbound marketing perspective in order to ensure people are still seeing you online.
Putting all your efforts in one place has never been a good plan. It makes you the “banana republic” of marketing. That’s too risky and – more to the point – it’s not well-enough targeted in our multi-media world. If you aren’t using all of your audience’s favorite channels to deliver your messages to them, you’re missing opportunities to drive more traffic to your website, engage with prospects and make more sales. That’s expensive.
So if you’re overly dependent on online advertising to drive traffic to your website, re-thinking your strategy now can not only head off a downturn due to ad blocking, it can significantly boost overall results.
The key is reaching out to prospects wherever they are, and that’s a lot more places than reading online publications or other sites that accept advertising. Social media, blogging, premium content and offers with well-crafted landing pages, automated workflows, individualized emails and a review-and-tweak of your underlying SEO strategy are all elements of a healthy and profitable marketing plan.
A well-rounded, strategically-targeted inbound marketing program ensures your company is poised to meet and impress prospects wherever and whenever they’re on the internet. It makes it easy to follow up with them, developing the kind of relationships that convert visitors to leads to customers to long-term loyalists. With all that in place, there’s no need to worry that ad blocking will get in the way of your success.