The end of mobile advertising is at hand, driven by device owners falling over themselves to be first to download and run ad blocking products and by the makers of these products who have ridden in to save us from brand message infestation.
Except history tells us that consumers will do nothing of the kind and the software makers who are coming in donning superhero getups have the same ambitions that the brands have – namely making money.
The issue, of course, has come to a head and to our Twitter feeds with the introduction of iOS9. Apple incorporated an ad blocking feature into the Safari web browser, the most widely used mobile browser in the world, with 42 percent of the market share.
To understand just how many will seek out an ad blocking product and do the required homework to know what is protection and what is bluster, I’ll point to the lack of action most consumer users took more than 10 years ago when worms and viruses reared their slimy heads.
Three years after the Love Letter worm infected millions of computers within a few hours, and the Code Red virus and Nimda worm followed with more destruction, Slammer crashed the Internet in 15 minutes in large part because we largely didn’t notice or yawned at such intrusions. Most importantly most didn’t proactively project themselves with Internet security software.
The problem only got better when Microsoft, Apple and others did the protecting for us.
This brings us to those positioning themselves as the savers of the day, the ad blocking companies that appeared in time for the iOS9 introduction.
Slate reported that Adblock Plus, one of the more prominent would-be superheroes, was shown to actually allow companies to pay to have their advertisements slip through its filters.
The free app reportedly began letting 70 companies with about 700 ads evade its blockers.
Worse, The Wall Street Journal said that Eyeo GmbH, the company behind Adblock Plus, “is now reaching out to developers of other ad-blocking tools to cut deals that allow certain ads to pass ads through their filters, too.”
Whether mobile users view ads as a major problem is up for debate. Instead, many instead see brand messages as an extension of what they’ve seen on television, on the web, in print, on radio, and elsewhere.
“Back in the old days, if you looked at the early days of television, there was a very clear connection between the program that you watched and the company that sponsored that program,” Mario Schulzke, a university teacher, founder of IdeaMensch, and an advertising agency leader, told me in an interview for my new book, The Art of Mobile Persuasion.
“Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, there was ‘Gillette Friday Night’ boxing night. Everybody knew that they got to see live boxing on TV because of Gillette. I think in the last 20 years in traditional media that has gotten lost. I don't watch a sports game and see a certain ad and say, ‘I'm thankful that Bud Light is buying these ads because that's why I get to watch this show for free’.”
Schulzke then takes the discussion to the web and to mobile.
“The same is true on the Internet,” he said. “The things that connect us … if you think of Apple, if you think of Google. Think about Google for a second. They've got their email -- we all have our Gmail accounts. None of us pay for Gmail. We get incredible value out of it. None of us pay for Google Calendar. Nobody pays for Facebook. Nobody pays for Twitter. Nobody pays for Instagram. Yet we get so much satisfaction and so much utility out of these tools. The reason for that is that they are going to monetize us commercially.
“I think if you understand that from a consumer perspective, then you get to make the choice whether you don't want to be on Facebook or have a Gmail account.”
Schulzke discussed the very issue with about 30 of his University of Montana marketing students.
“Everybody thought that it was kind of creepy,” he recalled. “There was a sense of hesitation when they found out that by using your Gmail account and when you log into different services, and logging into Facebook, that you are able to be tracked.
“But then when I asked the question, ‘Would you not go on Facebook, would you give up your Gmail account?’ the answer was a resounding no. I felt like there was this feeling that it was unfair that this is happening but it's just too convenient to stay on these tools. They are free and they are great.”
What they need to be, in the view of Schulzke and other marketers I interviewed, are more transparent.
“I think what's important for companies like Facebook and Google and Apple and these very large platforms is to just educate consumers a little bit about what it is that you're doing and give people some ways to opt in and I opt out,” Schulzke told me. “And you're going to be able to opt out of everything. And most people won't be opted in to everything, either. I think that there will be a little bit of a struggle but being out there and putting out information I think that will be important and it will resolve that. Honestly, I don't think you will be creepy - I think it will be kind of assumed.”
Much as there needs to be a mindset change with those college students, adjustments need to enter the marketing department, too.
“Let's face it,” Schulzke said. “It was all about how can I disrupt you, how can I interrupt you from what you're doing, catch your attention, and somehow persuade you to take whatever action it was that I wanted you to take? I think that's changed.
“I think as marketers if we want to be successful, rather than think about how we're going to disrupt the consumer behavior, we need to think how can we add value to the consumer behavior.”
The bottom line -- if a brand provides something useful to a mobile owner in an ad, app or elsewhere, he or she is more likely to engage than shut off the business – and its ads and marketing.
(article first appeared here - http://mobileleadersalliance.com/2015/09/28/blocking-out-the-hype-around-ad-blocking/)