That vocal bunch known as ad block users are quickly becoming one of the most sought after audiences on the internet. This untapped audience, if you can reach them without trivializing their concerns, is a massive opportunity for marketers.
If done correctly, reaching ad block users isn’t as complicated as it’s often made out to be by the ad tech industry. With a few simple tweaks to your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to target an audience few others are reaching currently.
Why Are Ad Block Users So Valuable?
While people who use ad blockers are actively trying to shut out promotional messages, they also tend to be the most engaged audience online. Studies consistently characterize them has high-income earners, well educated, and early adopters of new products. Statistically, they are also heavily influenced by the content they read, and they’re engaged with both the media sites they support and the authors who pen their favorite content. In other words, the payoff for reaching these readers can be unprecedented.
With the growth of ad blocking online, the relationship between media company and reader continues to deepen. For properties that have the trust of their readers, the opportunities to market directly to them often comes in creative and untraditional packages.
If you’re looking to target an audience that exists solely because of advertising blocking on the internet, you’ll need to learn as much as possible about them before you start working with brands to target them.
Determine The Ad Blocking Audience
Categorically speaking, some websites have audience segments with higher levels of blocking than others. For instance, ad blocking adoption has grown the quickest amongst the 18-24 demographic, and by extension the publications they frequent are under the biggest threat. That said, ad blocker adoption also continues to shrink across older demographics. Installation intention, however, seems to be trending in the opposite direction. While the 18-24 demographic may have the highest adoption rate already, the benefits of ad blocking is resonating the most with those that are 45 or older. 18 percent of the 45+ audience plan to adopt an ad blocker in the next six months.
Understanding your website’s readership and their tendencies will go a long way towards developing a successful outreach strategy.
You can quickly capture information about your ad block audience by implementing technical solutions to track them. Today, most savvy media companies online know exactly the size of their audience currently using ad blockers. Sophisticated tools exist to collect that information, and both services and scripts will collect information about those using the blockers across their sites.
Once you know who’s blocking your advertisements, you can start compiling a plan to sell against your newly uncovered audience. Cutting edge media companies looking to target ad block end users often have dedicated content teams whose primary responsibility is to create content that leaves lasting impressions with their audience. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have teams in-house that focus on designing native campaigns for brands. Understand the value of non-traditional advertising opportunities, and then prepare yourself to answer advertiser questions about audience trends, demographics, and what types of content resonates the most with your readership. Prepare marketing material to provide prospects with a compilation of your team’s best work, and then success metrics around each example piece of content.
Figure Out What They’re Reading
Determine what this new target audience is already reading and sharing online. Does your ideal marketing target spend most of their time reading editorials, or do they spend time digging through reviews on your website? The only way to reach an ad blocking audiences at a targeted publication is to give them material that they’re already consuming online and in a format they prefer. Once you’re able to build a content profile for your target within a website’s customer base, you can begin to explore native advertising options with advertisers interested in reaching ad blockers on your site.
Embrace Native, Avoid Display
The truth is, it’s time move on from display advertising as a sole offering to advertisers. While media companies are still engaging brands about display, today most advertisers are looking for more interesting or custom offerings from publications. There’s a reason: sponsorships and natural alternatives reach their most valuable audiences while doing a better job of telling your brand’s story online.
70% of people online want to learn about products through content. That means reviews, videos, podcasts, and mediums that offer more than just “buy this now” advertising. In most of those cases they can instruct audience on why they should buy your products, or how it compares to the competition. Product reviews and product-related editorial need each other. Customers want to know if your products are up to the task, and if you’re providing the best option on the market. Display advertising, when used as brand recognition can be a powerful tool, but product editorials provide more context and incentive to make a final decision on purchasing a product. Reputable publications may be pricey, but if their audience trusts them, they’re more likely to buy products than they are when they see a simple display advertisement.
One of the quickest growing mediums on the internet is newsletters. Media companies, and their users love newsletters because they’re one of the most engaging mediums in their arsenal. Few mediums can guarantee a reader will view content, but newsletters can focus directly on who clicked a sponsorship, and who avoided your native content.
The other beauty of newsletters? Readers have opted-in for the information being sent by media companies. The majority of subscribers know what type of information will be arriving in a newsletter, so if there’s a natural with with your brand and marketing strategy, newsletter readers will often embrace your advertisements.
Target Sponsored Content
Advertorials and Sponsored Content, Branded Content, and In-Feed Ads are all examples of native content types that fall under a sponsored content umbrella, but they all take a slightly different approach to displaying your content to readers. In some cases, ad blockers can be configured to block sponsored content and other forms of native content, but when it comes down to it, if advertisements are built with care and adhere to a reader’s expectations, it’s unlikely that your sponsored content will be ignored.
Sponsored content is often built by a media company for their audience, but based on your marketing targets. In this situation, media companies work alongside advertising teams and determine which types of content (infographic, an article, etc.) will align with an advertisers campaign goals.
Target Both Audio And Video Podcast
Just like newsletters, podcasts result in very high engagement number. Unlike its written brethren, media company audiences opt-in to receive continuous content in a variety of applications on both mobile and desktop computing systems. If your targeted media company has a podcast with embedded advertisements, the content will bypass ad blockers and reach your intended audience. Podcasts are a great way to target the ad block demographic with your marketing messages while giving them content in a format they prefer.
Target Whitelisted Publications Or Ad Networks With Your Display
While display may be on the way out, there are a couple approaches marketers are taking to get their display campaigns in front of ad block users. Did you know some display ad networks are currently whitelisted across a variety of ad blocking applications by default?
That means some networks, like Carbon Ads, can fulfill your display advertisement campaign needs, while still being able to target consumers running ad blockers. As a marketer, it makes sense to search out networks and exchanges that have been whitelisted and place your display ads through those mechanisms versus traditional exchanges.
Targeting ad blockers isn’t without its dangers. There will always be a vocal minority who admonish your marketing attempts publicly no matter your best efforts or pure intentions. There’s nothing you can do about it. Arming yourself with facts may help you get over the anxiety of publishing native content, but you should be prepared for a negative scenario that may manifest itself after publishing your campaign. Some people just like to watch the world burn.
Originally published Apr 26, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017