Adblockers may shift digital spend but experts sceptical about users being a new ‘hot’ demo

Andrew Hughes


A rise in usage of adblocking software may actually improve the performance of ad campaigns, but is unlikely to lead to a new golden demographic of people to target according to ad tech experts.

Adblocking technology has been very high profile in recent weeks amid the launch of Apple’s iOS9 and the pulling of top rating adblocking app Peace from the Apple store, amid uncertainty about what it may mean for the market.

While an article in DigiDay suggested the young, male-skewing and tech-focused demographic most likely to use ad blockers could become a hot demographic for certain advertisers, local practitioners were sceptical.

“Are they more lucrative than they were before? Possibly but I would suggest they are people who were hard to reach through media anyway,” said Andrew Hughes, a digital consultant with Louder. 

“Apple has made adblocking a core part of their proposition for their browsers and that is a shift from other browsers that have a do not track function.

“It is coming about because people are not happy about receiving advertising and they have been ignored for a number of years.”

Kerry McCabe


RadiumOne APAC boss Kerry McCabe said the ad industry globally needs to address what was driving the growth of adblockers, with Forbes estimating the percentage of users may be as high as 20 per cent in certain countries.

“I think the bigger issue here is that rather than finding ways to chase the ad blockers is ​for our industry – on both the supply and demand side – to​ address the valid motivations for blocking in the first place,” he said.

McCabe, who runs programmatic platform RadiumOne in Australua, said consumers were motivated to block ads for three key reasons: annoyance at poor retargeting, interruptive ad units that fail to respect the user experience and advertising which causes page loading issues.

Asked about whether he thought adblockers could become a sought after demographic he said: “I think it only makes them more interesting if you know enough about them to deliver relevant marketing. Once you’re able to find – engage i.e explicit first party data that informs as to specific real world wants and needs that consumers have.”

Hughes noted that those consumers using adblockers were actually getting a poorer consumer experience.

“The whole media industry is moving towards presenting more relevant ads to people,” he said.

“Consumers have been historically been quite frustrated with being targeted with irrelevant advertising but now with data and site behavioural personalisation consumers who are blocking are getting a less personalised experience.

“Desktop is where adblocking had been most prevalent but now mobile is the emerging market.

PeaceHughes noted how adblocking app Peace went straight to number one in the Apple store before it was withdrawn by its maker.

“It went straight to the top of the Apple because of demand,” he said.

“Marketers are increasingly focused on gaining more and more data points on consumers.

“But if you have this void for say – 18-20 per cent of males aged 15-40 who are interested in technology – you are just going find that marketers will focus their investment in other areas where they do have data points.”

McCabe argued that the growth of adblocking software may actually improve digital performance among the remaining non adblocking consumers.

“Consumers willing to seek out, pay and/or install an ad blocker are those least likely to respond to performance based advertising in the first place,” he said. “The blockers aren’t clickers.”

“As a result, while volume may be somewhat reduced, and pricing will likely be somewhat higher, performance may also improve.”

Nic Christensen 


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