May 4, 2016
Can Contextual Targeting be the Savior for Advertisers who need to Combat Ad Blocking?

Can Contextual Targeting be the Savior for Advertisers who need to Combat Ad Blocking?

Doug Knepper, VP of sales at ADmantX explains why he believes that advanced contextual targeting – could be the secret weapon in the fight against the ad blockers. He also discusses why it’s time for advertisers to stop alienating customers with disruptive and intrusive ads and utilize relevant and tailored communications

If marketers had hoped the ad blocking dispute would be resolved by now, they are set to be disappointed. The conflict rages on, and shows no sign of abating.

Last year the number of active ad block users in the US reached a new high of 45 million — nearly a 50% year-on-year increase. The software also made inroads on mobile, with Apple’s decision to support ad blockers sparking a wave of adoption — by the end of 2015, 80% of mobile users had either installed a blocking app or planned to do so. And earlier this year, Samsung followed in Apple’s footsteps by introducing its own plug-ins to allow in-browser blocking on its Android-supported smartphones, leaving the door wide open for third-party blocking apps.

While some digital crusaders are fighting back — late last year Forbes began preventing users from accessing its site unless blockers were switched off — it’s clear that a more permanent, mutually beneficial solution is needed. As long as ad quality remains low, users will block them, so could an approach that focuses on improving the standard of digital advertising — such as enhanced contextual relevance — be part of the savior the industry needs to combat the blockers?

Why relevance and context matter

It’s easy to assume that consumers block ads because of a vendetta against advertising. But in reality, it is inevitable for consumers to become frustrated with the delivery of irrelevant, poor quality ads. In fact, 60% of consumers prefer ads that are targeted to where they are and what they are doing, which includes browsing online content.

The problem then, is that consumers are not receiving a fair exchange — slow, generic, and potentially inappropriate ads that devalue a user’s experience, and the content that first attracted them to the page, hardly seem a reasonable condition for free access.

As marketers take action to win back their audience, they must ensure advertising messages are contextually relevant to the content they are placed beside — providing an engaging experience that interests, rather than irritates consumers.

The perils of intrusive ad formats

Even worse than ads that do not suit their context, are ads that block it out completely — such as pop-ups, interstitials, and homepage takeover ads. According to research by Reuters, 47% of US consumers have chosen to block ads because they interfere with the content they are trying to view.

Furthermore, the effects of intrusive ads not only drive users to block ads; they also damage audience loyalty — 30% of online adults actively avoid sites where ads are interruptive, which is bad news for marketers and publishers alike using these ineffective formats.

But there is hope; the study also found 19% of consumers view brands positively when ads are non-interruptive and contextually relevant. So instead of forcing ads upon an audience, marketers should take a considered approach to ad delivery that matches ads perfectly to the environment in which they will appear — minimizing disruption and maximizing value.

Utilizing text that puts context first

To help put a stop to ad blocking, marketers must build contextually targeted, non-intrusive campaigns that complement content, but how can this be achieved?

One solution is advanced contextual targeting — a smart technology that analyzes content at page level before ads are placed and ensures they are an ideal match. While most ad delivery mechanisms rely on keywords, this approach delves deep into content, using advanced semantic technology such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze individual pages and determine what each word means, as well as understand the emotions expressed in every page.

Armed with this in-depth understanding, marketers can make sure ads are always placed in the most appropriate context and are never deemed intrusive — what’s more, they can also tailor messages for optimal appeal to specific audiences.

While methods such as content blocking are an understandable reaction to the ongoing ad blocking battle, such approaches will be doomed to fail if marketers do not also address the low quality of the current digital experience.

Consumers are being driven to ad blockers by a number of factors, from slow loading speeds to irrelevant and inappropriate ads — all of which prevent them from accessing and enjoying the content they love. Improving relevance and context should be a basic requirement for anyone looking to pave a road to resolution.

By utilizing new smart technologies to ensure ads are a valuable addition to content, marketers can begin to regain control from the ad blockers and make peace with their audience.

From: MarTech Advisor