The Internet is engulfed in advertisements. From watching a 30-second YouTube video to perusing your favorite blogs, ads are aplenty and sometimes it really does diminish the web browsing experience. This is why ad-blocking software has become more and more prevalent, and a major problem for publishers and marketers.
Publishers rely on advertising revenue to sustain their companies while marketers depend on advertising to attract attention and eyeballs to new products and services.
The Need For Ad-Blocking Software
With software solutions like AdBlock Express, AdBlock Plus or Ad Muncher, an estimated 150 million web browsers, or five percent of global Internet users, have some type of ad-blocking software or add-on in order to avoid ubiquitous and intrusive ads. Furthermore, these developers are coming up with similar tools for mobile web browsers, which could certainly give advertisers more intense headaches because mobile marketing is already the next big thing.
Although it’s safe to say that consumers would prefer to view ads rather than paying a monthly subscription. They still don’t appreciate how explosive some ads can be (anyone irked by videos that play automatically?) and, thus, resort to the likes of AdBlock Plus. Security and privacy are also concerns.
Eyeo, a German firm that owns an ad-blocking software, explained this sentiment in a statement:
"Of course, we understand that advertising is the economic engine that drives the Internet and gives us free websites and great content. But as click-through rates continue to decline, many online advertisements have regrettably become obnoxious and obtrusive and annoying in a desperate effort to be heard. In turn, hundreds of millions of consumers have responded by installing ad-blockers, which further depresses click-through rates. The vicious cycle worsens. We want to reverse the cycle."
But What About the Digital Marketers?
Proponents of ad-blocking software suggest that advertisers and brands have to come up with more respectful campaigns. However, this isn’t as easy as all that, which is why marketers have attempted to pay ad-blocking developers a fee to be on an omission list, otherwise known as whitelisting. This means brands can still advertise on browsers with these add-ons as long as they pay the developers some money.
Isn’t there a better solution? It’s quite possible. Digital marketers could take the advice of ad-blocking software proponents while also promoting products and service. This could very well come in the form of content marketing, a very popular tool for every single blog, brand, company and advertiser today.
Content Marketing Might Be the Answer
First, just what exactly is content marketing? Content marketing is any type of marketing that consists of creating and sharing media and publishing content that has an aim to garner and retain customers. Second, content marketing comes in a wide variety of forms, such as articles, sponsored content, blog posts, webinars, infographics, white papers and so on. Third, content marketing is the "in" thing to do as marketers are setting aside around one-third of their marketing budgets on content marketing.
Sponsored content and native content are proving to be a lucrative and successful alternative for marketers; Internet users can’t block content, and the brand is still being advertised. Reportedly, native content has garnered much better results than conventional ads found inside paragraphs, on right-hand panels and banners.
Why? It’s probably because brands are offering valuable information instead of just plastering the product on an annoying ad. This produces customer engagement and leads to brand loyalty.
You may remember, however, that HBO’s John Oliver chastised this trend on his popular show earlier this year.
Nevertheless, according to Content Standard, world-renowned brands have noticed the value of branded content, which is why so many companies have launched their own in-house content teams, such as Starbucks, Marriott International and Red Bull.
Content marketing is a win-win for both publishers and marketers. Publishers can earn a lot of money from brands and marketers can acquire new customers. For instance, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail charges advertisers about $10,000 per post, while Elite Daily charges advertisers roughly $50,000 per video post. Many websites already have all or some of their business models entrenched in sponsored content, like BuzzFeed.
Marketers have already acquiesced to ad-blocking by realizing that it may be for the best that those who vehemently detest brands don’t view their advertisements. However, it’s the newspapers, blogs and other websites that provide valuable content to tens of thousands of users that will suffer in the end. It’s getting a lot harder for brands to employ traditional digital marketing techniques, and with ad-blocking, it could be more difficult.
Content marketing, in all its glory, may very well be the answer to everyone’s problems. What do you think?