How Ad Blocking Puts the Spotlight on Search Marketing and Cross-Device Marketing

Illustration with word cloud on ad blockers.

Just as rapidly as the wave of digital advertising took over the Web, a surge of ad blocking software and tools have become available to internet users. In 2016, browser providers will compete to offer the best Web surfing product by equipping those products with automatic ad blocking power.

Techopedia defines ad blocking as a program which prevents ads like pop-ups and banners from interrupting the online experience. For mobile consumers and desktop users, ad blocking technology is a tool to prevent their internet experience from slowing down. More than anything, ad blocking is a gateway to getting to the content consumers are looking for — and right away.

Even though ad blocking has progressed so much in recent years that it’s fundamentally altered the future of the digital advertising space, it’s also created new opportunities for marketers to engage their audiences in somewhat non-traditional ways.

The Advancement of Ad Blocking

While it is assumed that few mobile and Web users go the extra mile to install ad blockers, in 2015 Business Insider reported that 200 million consumers were already quite privy to ad blocking technology – so much that according to a recent Digiday study, global ad blocker software use crept up from 21 million in 2010 to 144 million just four years later. Clearly, the rhetoric around ad blocking – within the media and politics – caught consumer attention.

For marketers, paying attention to the advancement of ad blocker usage is important because of the message underlying it: it’s time to start thinking differently about how ad messages will get in front of your desired audiences.

Ad blocking hasn’t put an end to digital advertising. Quite to the contrary, it’s forced marketers to become savvier when it comes to how they create and deploy digital and search advertising campaigns.

Ad blocking has long evolved from its initial incarnation as a simple pop-up blocker within Web browsers. For example, as recent as last summer, Apple rolled out a mobile ad blocking app extension, letting roughly 700 million iPhone and iPad users opt-in for a faster, nearly uninterrupted Web browsing experience on those devices.

This goes to show that in whatever way ad blocking technology advances, the digital experience brands and businesses create for consumers will very closely match ever-evolving browsing behaviors.

Why Search Marketing?

Getting around ad blocking encourages businesses to zero in on engagement. Search marketing platforms like ypSearch Marketplace help advertisers effectively tap into local audiences. By marketing through a search platform, companies are in a stronger position to more squarely target and reach their desired consumers — as audiences reached by search platforms are demographically more relevant to a brand’s demand generation needs as a result of advanced targeting algorithms.

Search platforms allow businesses to grab the attention of consumers who are already in their consideration set. It makes sense for consumers to be more interested in clicking on an ad for a sale at a local bike shop once they’ve already done an initial search for “mountain bikes.”

Even if consumers have installed ad blockers, they won’t able to bypass retargeted search ads, which, when all is said and done, actually help them move through their purchase journey.

Search marketing platforms are beneficial to brands — not only because they serve as a solid workaround for ad blocking technologies, but also because they provide an opportunity to engage consumers who are already searching for their products and services. But this is only one part of the “ad blocking alternative” equation. Cross-device marketing takes this one step further.

How Cross-Device Marketing Circumvents Ad Blocking

A recent study conducted by YP and IDC titled “Zig Zag: The New Consumer Journey Zeitgeist” details how multi-device consumer habits tie into their purchase journey — and why it’s beneficial for brands to adapt to this “zigzagging” behavior.

The report found that 36% of people who conducted local searches switched between at least two devices, including a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet. In addition, 35% of people conducted local searches from two or more locations including home, while on the go, or in the process of shopping.

Consumers are jumping on and off different devices, looking for the same or complimentary information across both the digital and real worlds. By launching campaigns with a cross-device mentality, it’s easier to get around the invisible “wall” created by ad blocking technologies and actually catch consumers at virtually any stop along their purchase journey.

Given that 27% of local searchers surveyed say they follow-up with at least two offline searches to complete their purchase journey, it’s becoming clearer that brands need to fundamentally re-think how they get their messages in front of their target audiences.

Multi-device, multi-channel, and multi-platform habits mean that brands need to not only think and act like their target consumers while creating cross-device marketing campaigns, but also, and more importantly, learn to better anticipate customer needs, especially at the local level where shoppers are ready to act quickly on top-of-mind purchase decisions.

Bottom Line

The unavoidable rise of ad blocking technologies is pushing marketers to think outside of the “traditional advertising” box, forcing them to wholeheartedly embrace new ways of reaching and engaging audiences: most notably through search marketing platforms and cross-device marketing campaigns. Instead of seeing ad blocking advancements as a hindrance to marketing efforts, it’s time for marketers to step up their game and use it as an opportunity to deploy smarter, better, more effective marketing campaigns.

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