Lifestyle

Online Marketing Meets the Ad-Blocker

It’s tempting to think there are real “quick and easy” ways to make some extra money, especially around the holiday season.

Books like “The Six Figure Second Income” (Lindahl and Rozek, 2010) and “KaChing” (Comm, 2010) promise that you can generate wealth from online business with great marketing and a stellar product from the comfort of your home, without sacrificing too much of your precious time.

Part of the money-making plan? Well, good marketing of course. By that, I mean online advertising. Actual marketing is another job. That would require an immense amount of time and energy, which is counterproductive to the whole idea of working smart, working independently, and making a profit you don’t have to share between a team of various experts. But online advertising may soon be a thing of the past. At least, it’s becoming harder for ads to survive, because we have begun to grow wary of abrupt, forced online ads.

If you’re honest, you probably have a few favorite ads. You might not even be tempted to skip them when you’ve got something on DVR. Often, celebrity cameos are enough to slip past our otherwise insatiable need for urgent entertainment, and we simply forget to press the “Skip Ad” button YouTube or we tolerate the brief delay from the mission to see the newest episode of Empire.

However, when that advertising isn’t amusing enough, we see it for what it is: an interruption. An eyesore. An unsolicited attempt to appeal to our greed. And who likes being called out?

Americans may be greedy and impatient, but we hate looking at ourselves in the mirror. Not only that, but the ads have become longer, more expensive to run, and more difficult to skip. Thus the setup for a new and innovative business idea: Ad-blocking.

Like an inebriated frat kid at a bar, money talks loudly and with no regard for its audience. Smarter ad targeting techniques have been met with vile hatred, and ad-blocking is the response. Not only is it a welcomed response, but an equally profitable one as well.

It’s become an added perk for many software developers, who market their ad-blocking capabilities as a serious benefit and an essential tool for customers who don’t want to be constantly disrupted from their work (or, ya know, Amazon shopping).

In 2014, Adobe and PageFair partnered to produce ad-blocking assistance by breaking down the demographics of who uses Adobe, who skips past the ads, etc. Unsurprisingly, they found that the only unifying trend for people who skip ads was that they were computer using homo sapiens. In other words, everybody skips ads when they have the chance.

Despite the overwhelming preference for skipping ads (because who wants to postpone 30-second YouTube clip for a 15-second ad?), Lloyd Alter, an MNN tech blogger, reported that fewer than 20% of Americans are currently using ad blockers. Alter argues that worst part of these low numbers is not the inconvenience suffered by the remaining 80% without ad-blocking, but the bad ethics inherent in all of our targeted advertising.

Google is practically a way of life for most young Americans, who use it to answer life’s most trivial—and important—questions on a daily basis. In light of its common usage, their exploitation techniques are frightening. Selling data retained from search engine entries is common, and it’s just common sense. It’s business-as-usual. You aren’t imagining things when the exact Macy’s and Wayfair items you were browsing yesterday show up on your Facebook Sidebar. You googled them? They own that little inquiry. And they’ll show up, in a way, just to see if you’re absolutely certain you don’t need that cardigan.

According to the 2015 Digital News Report from the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute, “significant consumer dissatisfaction with online advertising, expressed through the rapid take up of ad blockers” was unanimous. Banner ads and pop ups were the most unwelcome of all online advertising, and those were some of the most commonly used for online business owners hoping to save time and make money through “subtle” solicitation.

Aside from providing some relief regarding privacy concerns, ad-blocking has another huge advantage:  It protects another very “American” virtue, which is the right to choose. Clicking on an ad before you can view a webpage, or even waiting for the allotted amount of time before you can skip that ad, seems less like a choice and more like an ultimatum…because it is. It’s essentially the “choice” you have between obedience for a cookie and disobedience for a nap when you’re a child, or the ever-popular Heaven/Hell “choice” touted by fabled fire-and-brimstone sermons.

It’s manipulation, and the outcome serves one purpose.

Lastly, hackers and viruses run rampant on the great wide web, and even seemingly harmless advertisements can contain malware that wreaks havoc on your computer system.

So how will online business owners survive? And should we care? Well, it’s true that all product—even web content—costs something to someone. Ad-blocking can block a whopping 75-85% of network revenue, according to The Awl, and even with subscriber’s fees and other online payments, it’s difficult to account for such a cut in profit.

Of course, not all ad-blocking software is created equal. “Umbrella” ad blockers cover the majority of ads, blocking like a fierce goalie, while other ad blockers are more discriminating.

The Peace ad blocker, for example, wipes out all ads with equal enthusiasm, whereas Ghostery has a method of blocking based on elements such as loading time. In this year and the next, we can expect to see increasingly refined ad blockers as online businesses struggle to creative less intrusive ads, while ad-blockers…well, they probably couldn’t care less whether they support online enterprises.

In any case, although you can get rich through concentrated business efforts online, this is probably not the time to start without some careful consideration of your biggest enemy: Human Nature.

*Note: Obviously, we all depend on some advertising to make money, and the products themselves can be worth a look and often worth purchasing. No one at Collective Lifestyle is against online marketing techniques.

 

Photo Source: ambergreeninternetmarketing.com