The Rise of Ad Block Technology in Digital Natives – And What Advertisers Need to Know


Summary: The rise in usage of ad blockers means that digital marketers and their clients have to address users’ concerns when it comes to tracking and ads.

With ad blocker usage on the rise, digital marketers and their clients must address the concerns of their users when it comes to tracking and ads. As digital natives grow older and have more control over their digital experience, we are seeing an increased use of ad blockers which is nothing new as the advertising industry has seen a steady increase in the use of ad blockers.

The advertising industry has seen a steady increase in the adoption of ad blockers, rising from approximately 21M users in 2010 to more than 180M users worldwide in 2019.

This makes sense as digital natives are more comfortable using technology and making it work to their ends.

So what does this mean for digital advertisers and their clients?

What Are Ad Blockers?

Ad blockers or content blockers are programs typically added onto your browser that prevent ads from being shown on websites.

When the ads are removed from webpages, load times can improve considerably and can also reduce data usage. These are both advantageous for people with limited data plans or people who live in areas with slower networks.

Another benefit is that they can block the tracking and behavioural monitoring technology that profiles user behaviour. This is a great option for people who don’t want their online browsing monitored or have their browsing preferences sold to advertisers.

So Who Are Digital Natives?

Digital Natives is a term used to describe the people who grew up in the digital age. They are the generations who, rather than having to learn about technology as adults, grew up with it from childhood. This exposure to technology during their formative years gives digital natives a greater familiarity and understanding of technology than the generations before them.

Digital natives and digital immigrants — how are they different?

Why Is This Important?

Looking at the situation in a micro-view, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Users deserve to have a choice as to what they want to ingest on the internet, including blocking ads on their browsers. But when you take a step back to look at the larger picture, you begin to see the long-term impacts ad blockers can have.

Thanks to online advertising, many websites are able to exist. From your favourite personal blog to websites such as the New York Times depend on online advertising revenues. That revenue is what pays for the writers who create the content, web hosting costs, maintenance of the site everything!

While visiting a site, when a consumer sees an ad for a product that they are interested in and they click on that ad, the site owner receives a bit of money from that purchase, the producer is able to sell their product and the user is able to buy what they like–everyone is happy.

Ad blockers disrupt all of this.

When ad blockers are installed, a user can visit whatever website they like and never see an ad. If they don’t see the ad, they can’t click on it or buy what the ad is selling. Meaning the site owner doesn’t receive revenue for their site and the producer can’t sell their product.

What Can Advertisers and Business Owners Do?

Although the situation can seem dire for advertisers and their clients, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Users have made it clear as to what kinds of ads and site activity they find intrusive, so if your strategy is too aggressive or your ads are annoying and irrelevant you will get blocked.

Making your site trustworthy is a good place to start creating a trusting relationship with users from the beginning since users are dating their data management more seriously. And if you’re giving users the content they want, they are more willing to undo ad blocking.

Advertisers need to commit to creating ads that aren’t disruptive meaning no pop-ups, no auto-playing videos with sound, no large sticky ads, and no ads with a countdown. It’s also important to have a website data policy that’s clear of what to expect when it comes to tracking cookies, data storage, etc.

So What’s Next?

Digital Natives are going to continue to make up a bigger part of the digital population, so it’s important that their concerns are addressed when it comes to their privacy and digital experience.

The businesses that ensure their online presence doesn’t cause friction with their visitors and potential customers are the ones who will be able to better navigate the changing demographics. The ones unwilling to recognize the new reality will see the impact of their decision sooner or later.

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