Global advertising body, World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), and some of the leading advertisers globally have been quick to respond to the latest PageFair report of ad blocking going mobile, which details the extent to which ad blocking technologies are spreading globally.
“Brands, whose money has driven the development of the online ad ecosystem, must take responsibility. We get the message loud and clear; we must listen to what people are saying and take action,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO, WFA.
Earlier in the week, Juniper has released an analysis that found that by 2020 ad blocking would cost publishers almost USD 28 billion a year. The report includes a warning that given “the next billion internet users will come online via low bandwidth, relatively expensive mobile connections and with readily-available mobile ad blocking technologies, the next billion Internet users may be invisible to digital marketers.”
Advertising may pay for news, content, maps, messaging and social media platforms but people fail to make the link. Ad blocking puts all of these benefits at risk. Left unaddressed, brands, publishers and people all stand to lose out. Brands must focus on the causes in order to find sustainable solutions. People are not to blame. The industry must look at itself.
David Wheldon, CMO at RBS and WFA President is clear that “the industry needs to reflect on the rise of ad blocking. Advertising has always been cultural wallpaper and we have a duty of care to make it as attractive and engaging as possible so that people enjoy it, not want to shut it out.”
Solving Ad Blocking
WFA envisages a three-point process involving the creation of international standards for digital advertising, allowing consumers to establish clear preferences for the advertising they are willing to see and then regularly monitoring their responses.
It is essential that any action must have at its heart the consumer experience. WFA is working with third parties to identify granular data around formats, frequencies and the volume of advertising which people no longer accept. The findings will differ by demographics and geographies although there are likely to be some commonalities in terms of what triggers people to block ads.
Luis Di Como, Senior Vice-President of Global Media at Unilever, also a member of the WFA Executive Committee noted how the industry needs to focus on creating content that is authentic, relevant for consumers and drives talkability. He said, “Creative that enhances rather than detracts from users’ online experiences. We have an ambition to create a billion one-to-one relationships with our consumers through providing positive brand experiences.”
“It is our responsibility to reach our customers with strong content they are interested in via channels they choose. If we do our job well, we will always be able to reach them,” added Roel De-Vries, CMO at Nissan and also a WFA Executive Committee member.
WFA has begun to identify the most credible methods of gathering consumer data and will begin to act on such information over the coming months. This process presents an opportunity which fits into leading brands’ overall strategies. The Association will bring together a broader coalition, particularly with leading publishers, to work together in order to take coordinated action at a global level. This is designed to support and enhance local initiatives which are already emerging.