Mobile purchases are up and so are ad blockers

Discussion
Oct 15, 2015

With ad-blockers soaring in popularity, some are wondering whether mobile advertising is in trouble and subsequently m-commerce.

The debate arrived after the release of Apple’s new iOS that made it possible to block ads in Safari browsers.

On his blog, Jason Calacanis, a popular tech blogger and angel investor, said that compared to desktops, ad blockers are more useful on mobile since iPhones’ screens are five to ten percent the size of desktops and more challenged with bandwidth.

"So publishers putting up a roadblock on the content, then asking you to use your fat fingers to hit the tiny little X or ‘skip the ad in 4… 3… 2… 1…’ is just overbearing," wrote Mr. Calacanis. "Mobile advertising is so ugly and intrusive, it actually makes people AVOID mobile browsing."

Felix Salmon, a senior editor at Fusion, the TV and digital network, believes the popularity of ad blockers shows mobile users are "very annoyed." Virtual pop-ups that force mobile users to watch an entire commercial and other "ever more dastardly ad units" are ruining the mobile experience, he asserted.

Mobile ad blocking

In a shared column for MediaLife, however, Gene Ely, the magazine’s editor and publisher, and Rebecca Harris, a digital strategist at Brand Cottage, wrote that the uproar over ad blockers is an overreaction based on "some very flawed assumptions." The big one is that ad-supported media is suddenly being rejected to a strong degree. They saw the ad-blocker’s popularity as proof that advertising, particularly digital, is "awful, utterly absent of any creativity or imagination" and felt ad-blockers could give internet advertising overall "a good housecleaning."

Ethical arguments also abound, specifically tacit agreement given to view ads in exchange for free content. Peace app developer, Marco Arment, denied this, telling the Guardian that consumers’ "data, battery life, time, and privacy are taken by a blank check with no recourse."

Predictions arrived earlier this year that m-commerce, fueled by mobile advertising, would see rapid growth over the next few years, assuming retailers improve targeting. Without advertisements, however, can they sell? If their advertisements antagonize, can they sell?

In many ways, mobile ads are no different to those in any other medium. Exciting ads encourage sales, irritating ads discourage sales. As Mr. Salmon suggests, ads should use respect rather than irritation.

"Ad-blockers, if we’re lucky, will put an end to the unedifying ad tech arms race," wrote Mr. Salmon. "Let’s hope that from here on out, the best creative, rather than the worst technology, will win."

How do you see ad blockers affecting m-commerce transactions? As consumers increase their use of mobiles for shopping, how likely are ad blockers to impact sales?

Braintrust
"Hopefully ad blockers will encourage retailers to move away from general pop-up and banner ads and towards targeted emails and personalized offers."
"Consumers want an ad-free experience. Think of yourself — do YOU want a ton of pop-ups interfering with your pursuit of communications, content, shopping or search? Probably not."
"I think the evolution of m-commerce is still in its infancy. We will have multiple iterations of ad vehicles that will come and go over the next few years. I don’t think the current ad blockers will negatively affect sales in any way. Stay tuned, though...."

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8 Comments on "Mobile purchases are up and so are ad blockers"

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Bob Phibbs
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Ad Age has had ad-blocking as their headline every week since the new iPhone OS debuted. This is huge and causing a lot of anxiety with e-commerce and marketing agencies — the ones most trying to disrupt retail. Some websites now plead with users to not block them or they will have to start charging for views.

Sounds like brick-and-mortar retailers tired of providing their square feet as showrooms for online customers. Interesting how, as my dad would say, the chickens have come home to roost.

Max Goldberg
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Ad blockers will have little effect on growing m-commerce. Consumers, particularly younger ones, use their phones throughout their day for multiple facets of their lives. Retailers and brands that hope to reach consumers on their mobile devices need to have more respect for their audience. As Mr. Salmon suggests, “ads should use respect rather than irritation, showing people what they want to see, ensuring the best creative … ” At present, too few advertisers follow these simple dictums.

Peter Charness
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

The percent of shopping that is impulse buy is significant and a timely targeted ad is a good demand creator. So ad blockers will directly result in lower sales. Now of course when I say a “timely targeted ad” I am referring to a future state possibility. I think if mobile ads weren’t so much spam there wouldn’t be as many ad blockers being downloaded.

Zel Bianco
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

I think it is important to remember that ad blockers only block more traditional ads. This trend should help encourage respect for the shopper and a more thoughtful interaction to encourage shopping. This morning — a brisk morning in New York — I received a marketing email with the subject line “Time to buy a new coat,”  and that simple but accurate subject line caused me to click through and see what was on offer. Hopefully ad blockers will encourage retailers to move away from general pop-up and banner ads and towards targeted emails and personalized offers.

Liz Crawford
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Consumers want an ad-free experience. Think of yourself — do YOU want a ton of pop-ups interfering with your pursuit of communications, content, shopping or search? Probably not. If I have the opportunity to block a pop-up, I’ll probably take it … does that mean the “best creative” will win? Not if I can’t see it.

Further, I do believe that m-commerce will dominate in the next few years, but it won’t be fueled by mobile advertising. It will be fueled by consumers who are increasingly facile with smartphones’ capabilities and the convenience of anywhere-commerce.

So — what about advertising? It’s not going away, obviously. Instead it will simply morph into new acceptable and engaging forms. These might include: greater use of “opt in” content subscriptions, adoption of new “branded” filters on category content or search functions, increase in branded product placement and sponsorships, etc.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

I think the evolution of m-commerce is still in its infancy. We will have multiple iterations of ad vehicles that will come and go over the next few years. I don’t think the current ad blockers will negatively affect sales in any way. Stay tuned, though….

Gajendra Ratnavel
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

This is just part of the evolution. Advertisers were being lazy and now they have to think a little. Advertisements in application, use of beacons, and other forms of marketing are far better anyway, but these take more effort to create and implement.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

With all due respect to Mssrs Ely and Harris, the “very flawed assumptions” are about the value of mobile ads themselves; or more precisely not “very flawed” as much as unproven. We have hundreds of years experience with print ads, nearly a century with radio and movies (product placement) and about two thirds that with television…and even with all that results aren’t guaranteed. To make sweeping statements about mobile based on a few years’ experience is folly, and to claim that ad-blocking will be ineffective because people have always paid attention before, while simultaneously boasting that mobile is a game-changer and the old rules don’t apply is a basic contradiction.

What I think the world will eventually move toward is a digital world where content is supported much more by subscriptions and fees, and less by advertising…i.e. a utility.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Hopefully ad blockers will encourage retailers to move away from general pop-up and banner ads and towards targeted emails and personalized offers."
"Consumers want an ad-free experience. Think of yourself — do YOU want a ton of pop-ups interfering with your pursuit of communications, content, shopping or search? Probably not."
"I think the evolution of m-commerce is still in its infancy. We will have multiple iterations of ad vehicles that will come and go over the next few years. I don’t think the current ad blockers will negatively affect sales in any way. Stay tuned, though...."

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