Ad BlockingIndustry News & Views

Ad Blockers Prevent Paid Search and Wreak Havoc on Analytics

By June 26, 2020 No Comments

What every advertiser needs to understand…

In a recent post I highlighted the power of permission-based advertising in reaching ad blocking audiences. Treating ad block users with respect, providing choice, and not tracking them when they give permission is the right way, and perhaps the only way, to engage with this brand new audience that has been completely unreachable, until now.

I’d like to specifically address the impact of ad blocking on search advertising. Search is the ultimate form of contextual advertising. It is the most popular form of advertising on the web with $54.8 billion being spent in 2019 in the United States alone, surpassing all other forms of digital by many billions of dollars. This is not surprising as these ads have a higher conversion rate than any other digital advertising strategy.

But what happens when search ads don’t work?

The Practical Impact of Ad Blocking on Search Advertising

Ad blockers remove paid search on Google with the exception of two ad blockers, AdBlock Plus and AdBlock. Google (and others) pay those ad blockers (or the company that owns them) to “white-list” and allow paid search ads to get through only if those users have not opted out of the feature called “acceptable ads”. This is nothing more than forcing ads on Ad Block Users and one of the reasons why US Senator Ron Wyden has asked the FTC to investigate. Worse yet, even in the case where paid search ads (and organic search results) are displayed and an ad blocker clicks on paid or organic results for that matter, your attribution and analytics services are most likely getting blocked. That means you can not attribute where the click or conversion came from.

By way of example, I searched for HD Televisions with and without an ad blocker turned on using my Google Chrome browser to see the difference.

With my ad blocker switched off you can see on the search engine results page (SERP), ads from Best Buy and Wayfair at the top of the page and a series of sponsored ads by Best Buy and Dell on the right rail.  

When turning on an ad blocker, in this test, I used Ublock Origin, a popular ad blocker, and refreshing the same search results page. ALL the ads were removed.

The only links left in the search engine results page were organic contextual links.  Bottom line of this example is that the brands who have paid Google to reach their target audience through search, in this case Best Buy, Wayfair, Dell, Overstock and Popular Mechanics have failed to reach ad block users. The same is true of most other search engines.

How Big A Problem Is Ad Blocking on Search Advertising? 

It’s huge. Ad blocking is a massive problem and opportunity for advertisers across North America and globally with ad blocking spanning 14-38% across the US population and larger globally, and estimates that ad blockers are currently used on well over one billion devices. 

In 2019 the United States population was estimated to be 328 million people. So even at the lowest ad block rate mentioned above of 20%, that represents 64 million people that do not see search advertising. That in turn means advertisers are unable to reach a large segment of their target audience. 

So Google can’t live up to its end of the bargain with advertisers, can’t control what’s happening or track behavior. In essence, nothing works and everything breaks.

The Answer: A Shift in Advertising Spend 

If you want to reach millions of ad block users, and you spend 50% of your advertising dollars  on search, the strategy is broken. Ad block users who are looking for products and services click on what’s contextually important and relevant to them in search engine results pages, you know, those links that are not ads. It’s on these critical pages that you want to engage with ad blocker users but you need a platform that makes sure ads on these pages can be seen by your target audience. And that’s where permission-based advertising comes in.  

At Adtoniq, we connect digital advertisers with these premium audiences they cannot otherwise reach while providing brand new revenue opportunities for publishers through permission-based advertising. We instill trust by putting the consumer first. We do not track consumer behavior nor collect any consumer data. By providing this valued service  we are building long term, trusted relations while preserving the ad-supported web.

By giving back control to ad block users, offering them choices to consent or not and making it frictionless, has a dramatic impact on their behavior. Our results show that on average, between 23-62% of ad block users opt in to seeing ads. Then, ad block users engage and convert significantly higher than non-blocked users. Working in partnership with major brands, we are delivering considerably higher click through rates (CTR) and conversions of this coveted audience that you can not otherwise reach. 

As a result, advertising dollars go farther and campaign efficiency increases. So if these unreachable consumers are important to you, consider re-directing some of your search advertising budget to a channel that can effectively reach and respect them.

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