Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Take a deep breath - Ad-mageddon is not upon us

News about ad-blocking software seems to be everywhere in the past few weeks. Businesses that use online advertising and agencies that provide it have been portrayed as anything from blase´ to completely melting down over both the public's gleeful anticipation for the software and for Apple's upcoming operating system that supports ad-blocking software. Fortunately for businesses that rely on advertising, this is not the Ad-mageddon that it appears to be at first blush.

What's up?

In all likelihood, the root of this issue is that consumers got really sick of pop-up and Flash ads disrupting their online experience and draining their device batteries. (Note: at Brockett Creative Group, we have always strongly discouraged our clients from using pop-up and/or Flash ads and continue to advise against their use because of the intense consumer dissatisfaction that it causes.) Ads are necessary for businesses, marketers, and the many websites that rely on them for revenue, but they should not be disruptive to the user experience. We advise our clients to use Google AdWords, remarketing, and to have dedicated advertising spaces on their websites to meet their online advertising needs. We find that this strikes a healthy balance between commercial marketing and individual online experience expectations; in other words, your product or service gets in front of many potential consumers without inciting anger in said consumers.

What does Google have to say about this?

Embedding Flash ads in a website spells bad news with regard to Google, too. While Flash ads purchased through Google don't reflect poorly on a website's ratings, other embedded Flash advertisements do. BCG's Marketing Specialist Scott Mathias explains, "For websites, any other built-in Flash has an overall negative effect on Google rankings. Flash elements have historically been responsible for website instability and security vulnerability. Because of these risks, search engines are penalizing websites containing Flash elements; and other platforms like Facebook and Amazon have done away with Flash ads completely." Fair? Maybe or maybe not, but it's important to remember that Google is, first and foremost, a business.

Meme of Larry David with his signature phrase, "Pretty good."
Larry David sees what you did there, Google.
Image from http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3pd35e

So, what's to be done?

Although it has been around in various forms for years, ad-blocking software hasn't really been tested - and by tested, I mean that the developers haven't been legally challenged yet. Matt Brockett, president of BCG, said, "I understand that this is a growing problem, where ads that are built into websites were being blocked, which may not be entirely legal. Businesses paid for that particular real estate on those specific sites, so the ad blockers could be seen as interfering with a contract and the website owners' revenue. The issue is still open for debate, but it reminds me of the early days of music file-sharing. The industry will either have to adapt, like Apple did with iTunes, or refuse to adjust like the traditional music industry did, which ended up being incredibly shortsighted. This could be a great opportunity to reinvent Internet advertising, or it could be a great opportunity for the advertising world to shoot itself in the foot. What we ultimately need is something innovative that will work for both the consumer and the commercial organization and possibly some well-thought out legislation that protects both parties that utilize this type of advertising."

The Bottom Line

There may be a little turbulence as Internet advertising adapts to this new landscape, but it's not going anywhere. Online advertising will remain one of the most effective tools - if not the most effective tool - in your marketing mix. Please email or call us at 315-797-5088 to discuss how we can help you maximize your online advertising investment.

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