More than 12 million people in the UK will block ads on a personal computer or smartphone this year. That’s a quarter of all internet users, who are now opting for the “thanks but no thanks” approach – thwarting the efforts of global advertisers and costing online publishers millions in lost ad revenue.
The number of ads being blocked on mobile has more than doubled in the last four years. This is, in no small part, thanks to the fact that this advertising boycott is being led by the younger generations, from late teens through to their mid-twenties, who are turning their backs on advertising. Nearly half will be blocking ads in 2019, meaning they’re twice as likely to install a blocker than their parents.
Remember, unlike the generation before, this is a group of people who have never had to wait a week for the next episode of The Bill to be aired. For them content is all on-demand, it’s all freely accessible and nine times out of ten it’s all free. The antiquated approaches to online advertising act like there is a captive audience ready to be broadcast to, but in fact the internet generation is all about control and choice. So Why would they put up with an ad if they don’t have to? Why do advertisers deserve their time and attention?
Let’s not forget however that it’s not just the younger generation who are taking steps to block as much advertising as they can. The reality is that the internet as we know it is at a turning point and the most important value that will dictate its future is trust. Recent years have seen some extraordinary developments in terms of data privacy and information security, with scandals ranging from the Cambridge Analytica affair that embroiled Facebook, to alleged meddling in the US elections and Brexit vote. Members of the general public are also increasingly aware of their inherent value as consumers, and data points. They realise they have rights over their own data privacy and many feel they deserve a fairer value exchange in the whole process of advertising and digital targeting.
Should advertisers throw their arms up in despair, and shut up shop? No, I don’t think that would benefit anyone - while the younger generation, in particular, may not realise it, every pound spent on advertising powers a seven-fold boost to GDP, encourages innovation, supports employment and helps fund vital services. Instead, I would say that marketers must embrace people’s growing sense of “digital self-worth” and turn it into a positive for their brand.
At Good-Loop, through our ethical ad player, we enable brands and advertisers to offer users of the internet a choice; you never have to give an advertiser your precious time, attention or data - but if you choose to, you can give 50 per cent of the advertisers’ money to a charity of your choice. Recently we worked on a campaign for KitKat to highlight Nestlé’s support to local coffee farmers, by donating to charity in return for anyone watching at least 15 seconds of their ad. The campaign raised over £29,000 for the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, funding 68 vegetable growing kits, 183 solar chargers and 318 school kits. KitKat saw a 65 per cent decrease in negative brand sentiment, and a 20 per cent increase in people’s stated likelihood to buy a KitKat in the next two weeks.
Let’s not also forget that the viewers who chose to watch the ad – to give up 15 seconds of their precious time and interest – found themselves rewarded in a transparent, respectful and mutually beneficial exchange. We like to think of this as our win-win-win system, where everyone in the value chain benefits financially, and ethically. We hope to be building many more win-win-win relationship in the coming months.
- Amy Williams, co-founder and CEO of Good-Loop