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Ad blocking costed publishers USD 22 bn in 2015: Study

With the technology advancing, ads are now everywhere in new and different forms. But are these ads effective and do people like them? About 80 per cent of consumers across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia say they leave websites because of interruptive online ads, and 50 per cent of global audiences have installed ad blocker tools to avoid the advertising drain, a HubSpot research highlighted.

The report finds that globally, ad blocking cost publishers close to USD 22 billion in 2015 alone. Adblocking has been the raging debate in the industry since Apple allowed third-party apps on Safari and across apps for this purpose. With 20 per cent of all web browsing occurring within Safari, the report from HubSpot reveals huge implications for traditional advertising techniques.

“As long as there are products to market, advertisements will never disappear, but advertisers must listen to the consumers, as they evolve and their behavioural traits change. Marketers who want to connect with potential customers – or maintain existing relationships with loyal customers – need to get smart about their digital ad spend, supplementing and enhancing the online experience, not interrupting it,” said Ryan Bonnici, HubSpot’s Director of Marketing in Asia Pacific.

“Today, brand control is absolutely in the hands of the consumer – they are unsubscribing from emails, skipping commercials, screening telemarketing calls, and most troubling to the ad industry, blocking online ads. As consumers, we are now spending more than half our time accessing the internet via mobile devices – given that ad blocker tools have been available on Android and iOS for some time, it can be inferred that access to audiences has been significantly reduced, driving the need for new ways to meaningfully engage with your target audience.”

The research highlights that millennials have the highest adoption rate of ad blocker software, with Adblocker Plus – the world’s most popular ad blocker app – reaching 300 million downloads worldwide.

Email and sponsored-advertising generate the most neutral experience, but 77 per cent of respondents revealed they would unsubscribe from a brand’s distribution list if they were sent too many messages.

Globally, 96 per cent of consumers have unsubscribed from receiving emails, with 46 per cent of consumers in Asia Pacific stating they didn’t sign up to mailing lists to begin with.

Ads are getting a lot of attention but consumers in Asia Pacific feel negative towards telemarketing calls (66 per cent); pop ups (51 per cent); and auto playing videos (40 per cent).

Unwanted calls ruins brand reputation as three quarters (75 per cent) of respondents in Asia Pacific said they would have a lower opinion of a brand if they are subjected to a telemarketing call.

While no forms of advertising received a positive response across Asia Pacific, the study found that ads with neutral experience scores, such as email newsletters or sponsored content appearing on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, created an unobtrusive experience. The data also reflects that native advertising was preferred among digital consumers – typically matching the look and feel of the platform they appear within.

Mr Bonnici concluded, “Considering the rapid-consumption of information through downward scrolling on social media platforms, it’s no surprise that native ads create a neutral experience for consumers. If executed correctly, it can be hard for consumers to recognise the difference between a well-crafted native ad and a standard post listed on the platform.”

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.