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3 lessons CMOs should learn from ad blocking

Sourav Ganguly


3 lessons CMOs should learn from ad blocking

By Sourav Ganguly, chief media officer of Centric DXB

There’s a very good and simple reason that ad blocking is taking off. Internet users find ads invasive, annoying and even irrelevant. While some advertisers resist ad blockers by working with publishers that block content for IP’s with blockers, others are opting to learn from it.
Once upon a time, print publishers made money by selling newspapers. Over time, they started allowing ads to appear. Depending on which section of the newspaper was being read or what the key story was, an ad was featured in that section – for instance, a brokerage firm ad next to news of stock jumps. Publishers eager for more revenue started placing more ads. When ads exceeded content, a funny thing happened. Readers became desensitized to ads. And in turn, the effectiveness of an ad reduced. Enter digital publishing.

Ad blocking is a symptom that digital advertising has managed to be as annoying as its print predecessor.

Think about it: if the ads were relevant or interesting, people would watch them. The Power Rangers movie features huge product placement for Krispy Kreme, but that didn’t stop people from sitting through the entire movie, recommending it and rewatching it. Perhaps advertisers should adopt a mindset that seeks to learn when the intended audience is drawn to one medium while it distances itself from another. Advertising will have evolved by 2020 and marketers must be prepared for it.

Here’s what the growth of ad blocking should be teaching marketers:


Segment your audiences by their online behaviors, in market segments, media consumption choices, customer journey and more to figure out where your message should be and how to craft it in a noninvasive manner. The better the understanding of the customer, the higher the chances of messaging that drives intended conversions.

Media landscape

Think of sponsored content, combining programmatic with native advertising, and content integration moving forward. Discard display ads and pre-roll ads. Work with the publisher.

Branded content

Either invest in your own branded content destination such as Red Bull’s Red Bulletin or AmEx’s OPEN Forum. Employ search data to guide you on the content within Hero, Hub, and Help, placing someone from the target audience in charge of deciding what should be created and how it should be distributed.

We welcome ad blocking because it is informative on which ads are generating brand dissonance. As digital brand evangelists, it is our duty to build on brand sentiment, not interrupt the online experience. It forces marketers to think of creative approaches. Viewing this trend as an opportunity and not an obstacle is key. With time, ad blockers will be less about blocking and more about filtering. So refine your approach towards online segmentation and content quality. In a post-Amazon-SOUQ world, audiences demand value and personalization. Venture to meet them halfway.

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