Last September, Apple officially opened the floodgates to ad blocking. The secret was out. It’s possible to enjoy the mobile web ad free. For many, this both declutters their visual experience and saves precious data on metered plans.
Unsurprising, then, that mobile ad blocking grew by 90% worldwide last year.
Marketers are concerned by ad blocking
Marketers and companies of all sizes are becoming concerned by ad blocking. And they should be. As PageFair shows (below), ad blocking has cost marketers and their clients over $80 billion since 2013.
In China alone, 159m mobile users block ads, with another 122m in India, accounting for about a third and two-thirds of national users respectively. This is significant as both countries represent important emerging regions for online marketers.
Currently, only about 2% of U.S. mobile users block ads. However, on non-mobile computers, including desktops and laptops, about one-quarter of Americans currently block ads, showing strong interest that could soon translate to mobile.
Additionally, the likeliest US adults to block ads are 18-to-24-year-olds. They do so at rates above 40%. This bodes very poorly for the future of traditional display-style web ads.
Content marketing is a better way
Clearly, display advertising has a limited future online. Except in certain controlled environments, the so-called “walled-gardens,” like Facebook and YouTube, it has already become very difficult to turn large profits from display ads.
Nevertheless, it remains possible to create highly effective web ads that potential customers will actively seek and even share. Of course, we’re talking about content marketing, which has seen explosive growth online over the last five years:
The approach involves creating ads that customers will find truly useful. They could be informative, entertaining, humorous, or touching. No matter what, they never look like an ad.
Instead, content ads look like web content users already love, such as newsletters, blogs, videos, listicles, GIFs, and more. As users enjoy and share this content, knowledge of your company increases, as does its standing in organic web search.
B2C or B2B, everyone is choosing content
In fact, 76% of business-to-customer (B2C) companies now report using content marketing. Among business-to-business (B2B) companies, content marketing is now utilized by an astounding 88%. In both cases, about half of companies currently investing in content marketing say they’ll increase their spending by next year.
The trick, of course, is doing it well. Of B2C companies already creating content ads, 73% named “producing more engaging content” as their number one priority. And when providing self-ratings on a scale from “first steps” to “sophisticated,” only 32% of content-creating B2B companies described their strategies as “mature” or better. Clearly, there’s ample room to improve.
Effective storytelling is key
At ECHO our best advice, whether speaking to customers or potential clients, is to tell effective stories.
This can take many forms. But all stories have a few things in common. A struggle is faced. The challenge is met. And above all, it is relatable to the reader. Merely telling customers about your products and services is not enough. You must engross them in a narrative.
Give Customers Good Content, They’ll Love You For It
Even if mobile ad blocking in North America never rivals adoption rates internationally, one thing is clear: virtually nobody likes to see obvious ads online. They are obtrusive at best, and can be costly when they waste data.
The only thing users truly love is great content.