Digital Byte: What Ad Blocking Means for Your Mobile Campaigns

Carnegie Higher Ed Oct 06, 2015 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

With the rollout of Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 9, users are embracing the ad-blocking technology that comes with it. The ad-blocking apps you can download allow for “an improved mobile browsing experience.” This means ads won’t drain site speed, which in turn can improve battery life, data usage, and even privacy.

While ad-blocking technology sounds great, it isn’t new. Ad blockers have been around for years, mainly on desktops. But now that a sought-after device is making it easier to install ad blockers, at just a couple bucks, they are more popular than ever—which has advertisers and publishers scared.

If you’re in higher education marketing, you’re probably leveraging some form of mobile display advertising to reach prospective students while they’re undoubtedly using their phone for, well, everything. So how will ad-blocking apps impact your impressions? The good news is, likely not very much. At least not right now.

Here’s why: these ad-blocking apps actually only block ads from browsers, not other apps. And people spend more time on apps than browsers. This means your ads will still be shown to consumers while they are using apps, which make up over 80% of smartphone Web surfing experiences.

Of course, while advertisers can breathe easy for a little while, publishers are still concerned, since many don’t have app versions of their site. After all, without the ad revenue to create that sought-after online content, many small publishers will suffer, as their livelihood depends on those sales. Since the release of iOS 9, some ad-blocking apps have already backed out of the business, due to the hit some publishers and small business would take. The popularity in ad blocking has furthered the debate on how advertising online should be managed in the future—topics like “ethical advertising” and “subscription-based consumption” are hotter than ever, leaving consumers feeling annoyed with the idea of having to pay for content, as much as they are with seeing obtrusive ads.

It’s definitely an uphill battle for regulators, but meanwhile, what can you do? As marketers, we have a responsibility to ensure a more positive ad-viewing experience for our customers, which could potentially decrease the demand for the ad blocking technology. At the very least, we must make the in-app advertising experience a positive one. But how? It boils down to ensuring your ad campaigns have two ingredients . . .

Reach and relevance.

Whether it’s through behavioral targeting capabilities, segmented Retargeting, or location-based targeting like geofencing or IP Select, there are many ways to ensure your impressions are falling into the right hands. (Read more on specific location-based strategies in my recent blog or by watching our recent webinar on this topic).

Audience segmentation is key for any industry. Education is no exception. This means knowing where a prospective audience is within the college search journey, identifying them geographically and behaviorally, and reaching them at just the right time. There are technologies and expertise out there that allow you to do this in a sophisticated way—you just need to use them!

Then, your messaging must then be tailored to pique their interest and connect with them in a genuine way, in order to drive them to your site to take that next step in the funnel. Whether it’s your brand, an upcoming event, or application deadline, strong creative can make or break a campaign. After all, an ad isn’t so annoying if it’s relevant, right?

So whether the ad-blocking craze continues or dwindles, there is an important discussion to be had about creating a better ad experience for the consumer. It’s crucial that your institution’s brand is reflected positively through a targeted campaign that reaches a relevant audience. And lucky for us, ad-blocking capabilities or not, mobile is still a great medium for us to do just that.

Follow Angie on Twitter @AngieMayWard

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