The Future Of Facebook Ads, Ad Blockers, And Online Marketing

Posted by Fans Reviews on August 4, 2014

Should marketing agencies be concerned about a future where everybody is using ad filtering or ad blocking extensions? Technically savvy users are increasingly using ad blocking browser software that among other things, may remove ads from websites or hide annoying types of sponsored content, and block various types of analytics JavaScript snippets from tracking people. Where the nerds go, the masses often follow soon later. Some of these ad blockers even block sponsored content on Facebook or other social media networks. So does this spell doom for businesses who wish to promote their products, marketing agencies that manage their customers' ads, and websites that monetize themselves purely through online ads?

There are many Reasons To Block Ads

People that want to block ads certainly have a valid viewpoint for just some of the following reasons:

  • Ads are a potential privacy issue with cookies having the ability to track what sites you visit. Many companies use this type of software for ad retargeting campaigns.
  • Ads can be annoying, particularly when they're Flash or animation intensive monstrosities that blink or expand when you hover over them. This causes severe usability problems with many websites.
  • Ads can slow down a website's loading time and harm browser performance. JavaScript is awesome, but too much of a good thing makes site performance die. That can significantly frustrate users and impact sales.

Not Everybody Wants to Block Ads

These are all important issues, and there isn't any issue with anybody that wants to protect their privacy in any way. Protecting your privacy and reputation online should always be your first consideration. However, there is also a strong case against using ad blockers:

  • It's unlikely (though certainly possible) for any potential advertiser to gain personally identifying information about you without your consent.
  • If a site includes so many ads that its annoying or slows down the site loading, it's unlikely to be a site that produces high quality content that you'll want to frequently visit anyway. Good sites always treat their visitors with respect.
  • Even though ads are occasionally annoying, often they also help you learn about a great product or service that you have no idea that existed.
  • Many of the best publishers and websites are free services that are largely supported financially by ads. Without an income, the great content that they produce would vanish. Many people realize this fact.

A Potential Compromise

One potential compromise is to just use a flash blocker, to remove some of the most blatantly annoying ads while still letting in ads from mainstream ad networks that are often text or image based. And you can always tweak ad blocker settings so that ads from quality sites get shown, but most people will not want to spend the time necessary to figure out how to do that. Additionally HTML5 ads are becoming more popular and publishers are using HTML5 techniques with CSS3 animations in order to duplicate Flash effects, so this advantage won't last forever. So it doesn't look like there's a perfect answer yet.

Alternatives For Website Monetization

Many websites that rely on ads to make an income may end up moving to selling goods and services to make money. Certainly, there are many types of business models besides just online ads. Many businesses may also have an increasing success with affiliate marketing and other types of promotion like that. Websites that rely on ads as well as selling services may also increase their reliance on paid features. OkCupid for instance, shows visitors that block ads a picture that asks people to kindly buy a subscription or pay a small fee for increased features if they use an ad blocker. In Jurassic Park, life always found a way to adapt to changing biological conditions. Online, the market will always find a way to similarly adapt to changing technical and social and cultural conditions.

So, what does this spell for the future?

Nobody except Doctor Who knows what the future will hold with any level of certainty. The best thing you can be doing is to diversify your sources of web traffic as much as possible so that you can better withstand any future technical changes and social trends. If you're getting plenty of traffic from social media, search engines, social ads, emails, content-marketing, the reduction in one source of traffic isn't as much of a killer to your business. This is a big part of the reason why it pays to experiment with many different social media marketing options so that you can find different sources of traffic as ad blockers cannot block peoples friends from telling them about great new services and products and that will never go away.

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