Ad tech and ad blockers share common ground on inventory quality

by Tom Schmidt, VP product, video and display advertising, Yahoo

Like a proud parent, every advertiser wants its ads to be seen. With the evolution of digital marketing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that real people are seeing those ads.

Today, an ad may never be seen for a number of reasons:

1.) poor viewability, where the ad could suffer from poor placement

2.) fraudulent activity, such as delivery to non-human traffic

3.) ad blocking, where consumers take steps to prevent the ad from loading

These challenges are rooted in inventory quality, but ad blocking is unlike the others: it’s a symptom of the shortcomings of the digital advertising experience and requires a more nuanced approach to solve.

An eye-opening reason why consumers block ads 

The PageFair 2017 ad blocking report lists several reasons why people block ads. Most people who use ad blockers cite a poor user experience as the primary reason, which isn’t surprising. More noteworthy is that 30% of those people blocking ads claimed they did so because of security concerns, such as exposure to viruses and malware.

The fact that nearly one in every three users worries about malware from ads is an important revelation. This means the efforts our industry takes to improve inventory quality can also directly impact our end consumers’ comfort and trust in the overall advertising ecosystem.

Where the interests of the ad industry and consumers align

The ad industry wants to reduce fraud. Consumers want to feel secure. These interests present a clear case where the needs of the industry align perfectly with the desires of consumers.

At Yahoo, inventory quality is one of our highest priorities. Whether investing in products, or working with the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) to help build an industry-wide foundation for combating fraud, the goal is to remove bad actors from the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Ad blocking may appear to be a step removed from inventory quality; however, the efforts the industry can continue to make to reduce fraud also ensures that consumers aren’t exposed to security issues and helps them feel safe.

The Opportunity for Advertisers

As an advertiser, what does this mean for you? How can you align with the desires of your customers, do good for the industry, and still meet your bottom line?

The good news: ad blocking isn’t a manifest destiny where ultimately we end up with two stratified societies—the “unreachables,” who block ads, and the “reachables,” who don’t. There are steps you can take to promote the health of the industry, and still reach ad blocking users.

1.) Work with partners—agencies, DSPs, and ad exchanges—that show a strong commitment to inventory quality. Make sure they have the history, processes, and technology to back their claims up. While this doesn’t directly solve ad blocking, it will ensure a healthier ecosystem that will be beneficial for all players in the future.2

2.) Reach your audience by targeting premium publishers. Ad blocking is a great democratizer, affecting premium publishers and low-quality publishers at about the same rate. Premium publishers, however, have greater incentive to figure out how to reduce the impact of ad blocking, whether it’s designing a better user experience, offering unique ad formats, or engaging in partnerships with ad blocking vendors.3.

3.) Target in-app supply. Mobile ad blocking is limited to the mobile web, so if you’re trying to reach an audience that’s more likely to block ads, buy in-app supply. Since ad blocking users are more likely to be younger, and heavier consumers of mobile content, targeting in-app supply is a win-win.4.

4.) Consider ad formats that people prefer. Yahoo has found that relevant, content rich ads outperform invasive ads, and consumers note that such ads actually enhance their online experience. The PageFair data is consistent with our findings, with adblock users showing greater preference for static banner ads, skippable video ads, and native ads.

Ad blocking is a trend that isn’t going away. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are a number of steps we can take to protect the health of our industry, and our customers’ faith in us.

More in Marketing

What TikTok’s e-commerce launch could mean for marketers and content creators

TikTok has officially launched its new e-commerce platform, TikTok Shop, earlier this month on August 1. Using the new e-commerce platform, brands and creators can sell products directly on the platform, potentially creating new revenue streams, and tap into the short-form video platform’s growing popularity.

‘The influencer industry can be really vile’: Confessions of an influencer marketer on the industry’s unfair hiring practices

While the influencer industry might sound exciting and like it’s full of opportunities, one marketer can vouch for the horrific scenarios that still take place behind the scenes.

Digiday+ Research: Marketers said revenue grew in the last year, with more growth expected ahead

After a tumultuous 12 months, marketers are getting a clear picture of how they really did during a time of true uncertainty. And, as it turns out, it wasn’t all that bad.