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Why mobile marketers must accept ad-blocking before they conquer it

As more marketers and agencies grow wary of the effects of ad-blocking on mobile budgets, the key to coming out on top is providing such valuable experiences and content that consumers will not be prompted to banish ads on their small-screen devices.

Ad-blocking platforms may actually improve site performance and reduce distraction for some users, which could lead brands to focus their efforts on providing a better mobile site experience. While some agencies? mobile advertising budgets may shift slightly, marketers should ultimately hone in on their target audience?s interests to ensure that their ads are native, contextual and relevant instead of spam-like.

?First off, it is important for marketers to recognize and accept that ad avoidance has been around forever; people learn to ignore ads and skip them, just think about DVRs and how they changed television dynamics,? said Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis, San Francisco. ?So the first method agencies and their clients should embrace is acceptance.

?Trendera recently reported that, across gender and age, roughly 40 percent of U.S. teens and adult Internet users have deployed ad blockers on their devices,? he said. ?Fractl and Moz remarked that this number can be as high as 63 percent among millennials. 

?Once we accept that the ad model needs to change, due to consumer demand, the second method the agency and client should embrace is to put the customer first and the customer's needs rather than themselves and their own needs first. Marketers must focus on being of value and intimately understanding an individual's journey and then present themselves in this journey with the intent of being of value at every moment of truth.?

Mobile advertising budgets
The advent of ad-blocking on mobile could spur a period of experimentation as marketers unearth different ways to get in front of consumers, with branded content and in-application ads two likely areas of focus (see story).

However, agencies and clients? advertising budgets are unlikely to see much of a huge swing downward, especially as brands ramp up to target mobile users in effective ways. Consumers are still figuring out ad-blocking platforms themselves, meaning that the dust must settle before marketers can take action.

One way that companies can better reach consumers with relevant content is by raising opt-in rates for push notifications or in-application messages. Advertising is slowly beginning to transform into a world where ?unadvertising? is king, and brands can ramp up long-lasting customer relationships with one-to-one material based on preferences or location.

?In the short term, ad-blockers probably won't have much of an impact on budgets; however, overtime, I hope we'll see a shift in budgets toward content and experiences that deliver value,? Mr. Becker said. ?We'll see a shift toward the linking of paid and owned communications, what we refer to as establishing an owned media causeway.

?Marketers are going to link their paid and owned media as they increasingly recognize that advertising provides temporal value and that lasting value will come from building direct and persistent relationships with people through their owned, interactive, media and messaging channels,? he said. ?Once this happens, we'll also see more budgets go toward marketing automation as marketers embrace personal communications at scale. 

?We'll also see, as ad revenue declines, an emergence of pico-payment models where publishers change their business models and charge people for access to the value they deliver through small, pennies or less than pennies, payments.?

The loyalty premium
Budgets may also shift more toward mobile apps, especially for big-brand companies with significant user bases. In turn, mobile Web sites will need to offer the ultimate experience for frequent visitors - one that does not deter them from returning.

Loyalty will be a paramount strategy for any brand concerned about ad-blocking. However, to maintain existing fans and gain new ones, brands must offer real value and clearly demonstrate it to consumers before they ever attempt to sell something or fuel a transaction.

?With acquisition challenged, an absolute premium will be placed on loyalty and engagement of existing customers,? said David Antonelli, senior vice president of sales at SessionM, Boston. ?Mobile is leading the way here.

?In terms of acquisition, permission is supplanting the interruption model,? he said. ?Ad-blocking doesn't impact our clients because the ads they run on our network are explicitly invited.

?Additionally, most ad-blocking hits the mobile Web. Most of our impressions get delivered in-app.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York