5th April 2016

Are creatives to blame for ad blocking?

By Anthony Looney, Creative Director

There’s a lot of debate circling around ad blocking, with many questions being asked about how and why it will impact on advertising agencies.

The truth is that online advertising has become lazy over the last few years, with bad placements and generic creative. This has given people every reason to disengage with adverts, prompting a rise in the use of ad blocking, leaving us with some big questions about whether this form of communication has now become powerless.

We live in a world of ‘sell sell sell’ - people are frustrated with flashing banners that intrude on their personal space. This, therefore reiterates the importance of pushing the boundaries and raising the bar to find new innovative ways to engage with audiences.

With all the data that we now have at our disposal, ad people have the opportunity to create ideas based on unique and original perspectives, discovering new ways to connect with different audiences online. People are dismissing content that isn’t relatable to them, therefore we need to go back to the drawing board and come up with ideas that stimulate all of the consumers senses and appeal to their interests.

It is important to protect the user’s experience, not build frustration and alienate consumers. To foster relationships on a personal level, we should look to generate creative that feels natural within each individual journey, as if a part of the content itself.

The golden rule of thumb should be to design as if adding to the story, not writing a new book!

Instead of moaning about ad blocking, let’s be proactive and use our imagination to overcome the obstacles we face together. Let’s be resourceful and always ask ourselves who we are trying to target. A perfect example of this would be when Belgian ad agency Boondoggle decided late last year to target users of ad blockers when looking to employ new creatives to their team.

You might hope that no creative would use an ad blocker, but Boondoggle’s research told them that 10% of creatives in Belgium used ad blockers because advertising online had become so poor. They embraced the issue and realised that this 10% were the type of creatives they wanted to employ - those who couldn't stand what advertising online had become.

The agency created a special banner equipped with an ad blocker-detecting plugin. The banner read, "You block ads, even if you work in advertising? Then maybe you're the person we're looking for. Join us and let's create campaigns that are really useful to people". Users were then sent to a list of Boondoggle job opportunities and it cheekily ended “Thank you, adblockers”.

Creatives are not the only people to blame for ad blockers, but we can’t ignore the fact that we’ve had a massive part to play. With the power of online, many ad people have got complacent and stopped progressing. It’s time to stop writing blogs about ad blocking and start to think of new ideas like an advertising agency should!

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