By Aditya Padhye, Director of Business Development at eyeo
For over a decade the advertising industry has seen digital content consumers as almost binary; ad-blocking users and non-ad-blocking users. However, as the industry and technology has evolved, this way of thinking is no longer valid or accurate.
At eyeo, we are strongly encouraging the online advertising community to now consider the advertising experience for three very different types of online users: standard users, non-addressable users and ad-filtering users.
Standard users are those who don’t use an ad blocker or ad-filtering software to limit or block online advertisements from their online browsing experience. Non-addressable users, on the other hand, are the segment of hardcore ad-blocking users who prefer to pay for online content to avoid seeing online ads entirely.
Finally, in between these two extremes, there is a segment of more than 200 million ad-filtering users: those who are tired of being distracted with invasive online ads but understand the critical importance of ads for the sustainability of a free internet ecosystem. These users, some 200 million strong, see fewer ads, and those they do see are less invasive.
With global digital ad spending predicted to hit $332.84 billion in 2020, capturing over half (52%) of all of ad spending for the first time ever, it is high time advertisers start looking closer at the real value of advertising amongst different types of online users.
Two different types of ad-blocking users
It’s vital advertisers start to make the important distinction between those last two types of online user: non-addressable users and ad-filtering users. That’s because the vast majority ad-blocking users fall into the latter camp. That is, users who are far more interested in filtering ads as opposed to blocking out completely.
A key finding in a survey conducted by YouGov just last year revealed ad-blocking users don’t hate all ads. They merely have far less patience than standard users when it comes to more invasive ad formats impairing their overall online experience.
We also know only a very small minority (5-7%) of Adblock Plus users choose to opt-out of the setting which gives them a limited, less invasive ad experience and therefore block all ads. Confirmation that the vast majority of “ad-blocking” users actually fall into this bucket of ad-filtering users, reinforces the point to advertisers that this is not a “lost” audience.
The banner blindness of the standard user
Now let’s come back to consider that first bucket of users, those classed as ‘standard’. While non-ad-blocking users appear to be the most appealing group for advertisers, there is one factor often overlooked (relating to this group) amongst brands: “banner blindness”.
A large number of standard users have either ignored or opted not to use ad-blocking or ad-filtering software – not because they welcome invasive online ads, but purely because their brains have been trained to largely ignore banner ads. Hence, “banner blindness”.
The resulting (and measurable) growth in the lack of performance of conventional banner ads in recent years is testament to this. And that’s exactly why at eyeo, we think advertisers should reconsider the real value of investing in ever-bigger, flashier and more intrusive ads. To put it bluntly: yes, targeting standard users is indeed a way for advertisers to experiment and try different kinds of ad formats. But, by focusing their efforts on reaching an audience which isn’t taking much notice, it could easily be argued that advertisers are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Non-addressable, hardcore blockers are a lost cause
At the opposite end of the spectrum are non-addressable users. Whereas standard users have ignored or opted not to use ad-blocking or ad-filtering software, non-addressable users have actively chosen to avoid seeing online ads entirely. In other words, they are users that either block all ads or they even pay for content to avoid ads.
For advertisers, focusing their efforts on reaching this audience is extremely challenging. They are actively taking steps to avoid taking notice. By continuing to try and engage with them advertisers are not only wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, but they are also risking their brand image.
Ad-filtering users are far more “ad aware”
Looking at the available data of online users’ advertising experiences, it is that third bucket – those ad-filtering users – which carry the most potential.
This is why we advocate the Acceptable Ads standard. And we encourage advertisers to see the real value in online advertising that is both respectful and non-intrusive. Advertisers worldwide are already using Acceptable Ads to successfully deliver their messages to over 200 million users. And, importantly, the vast majority of those users are not “banner blind” (that’s why they have chosen not to block all ads). They are simply more ad aware and also more cognizant of the necessary value exchange between advertisers, content publishers and users that sustains the free and open internet.
Further, these users are more likely to spend more online as well as discover brands online more frequently than standard users. Also, if they like a product or service, it’s more likely they’ll recommend them too. Crucially, this is a highly valuable and equally sizeable audience which has the power to drive dollar spend at a time when investment is needed. They don’t hate adverts. This is the reason why (providing advertisers deliver creative ad formats and positive ad experiences to them), targeted banner ads are still proving to be most highly effective amongst this ad aware segment of online users.