The Significance of 1,964
Imagine something (or someone) that really annoys you. Like, really, really annoys you. Now imagine you can shut it (them) off at the click of a button. Would be a beautiful thing, right?
This is what nearly 50 million Americans and another 150 million worldwide have done with online ad blockers, blocking $22 billion worth of ads in 2015, and a projected $41 billion in 2016 (1).
In case you’re unfamiliar with ad blockers, they’re browser plug-ins (desktop) or apps (mobile) that do just that – block ads. Banners, video, content syndication, mobile ads, you name it. They can all be blocked at the click of button.
Back to the number 1,964 and why it matters. This is the number of ads blocked across pages I’ve visited in the last week on my desktop. That’s 1,964 thwarted attempts by marketers (just like us!) trying to connect me to a web experience that they’ve carefully crafted and invested heavily into. That’s also 1,964 impressions that those publishing sites don’t get to realize in revenue.
This “uprising” begs a few questions:
- What does this mean for the ad-supported model? Most content we consume in large part is free thanks to ads.
- If Internet users are saying “no” to ads, what kind of content are they saying “yes” to?
- As content marketers, do we need to rethink how we engage/acquire an audience?
- Is online advertising dead? (Absolutely not. But, it is going to put a squeeze on many large publishers and self-made content producers like this guy (http://kotaku.com/youtube-s-biggest-star-pewdiepie-weighs-in-on-youtube-r-1739497566).)
When users block ads, they’re saying, “Stop interrupting me, I want a high-quality content experience.” Quality content will continue to be “king,” and this just gives us yet another reason to talk to our clients about the power of content marketing.
This massive shift to ad-blocking is not all that unlike the algorithm updates Google has made over the years to penalize those gaming the system with content farms and other fraudulent sites, in efforts to elevate those sites with quality content. Simply put, quick access to quality content is one of the fundamental reasons people use the Internet. The ad-supported model wasn’t always so prevalent, but now that it seems to have reached a tipping point with Internet users, marketing budgets will need to be increasingly allocated towards creating high-quality content that serves real needs.
Like many mass, abrupt shifts, correction to some extent is inevitable. One attempt some sites are beginning to make are to block users from reading content altogether if it detects an ad blocker on the reader’s device. The IAB is mulling over its legal options. YouTube just came out with YouTube RED, it’s paid, ad-free subscription service. It’s going to be interesting to watch as the impact of this simple browser plug-in continues unfolding and when, not how, it begins to affect our Internet consumption habits.