Unlocking the adblocker

To truly understand how to address the increasing use of adblockers, we must first understand the reasons behind it. Kantar Media’s DIMENSION study into the online behaviour of connected adults (connected adults = those who have access to the internet via both a PC/laptop AND a personally owned mobile device) reveals that in the UK most consumers (60%) like, or at least tolerate, advertising generally.

High proportion of adults seeing the wrong ads at the wrong time

So far so good, but according to the DIMENSION findings, almost three-quarters of these adults agree ‘Sometimes I see the same ad over and over again, it’s too repetitive’. In addition, 50% of these adults state that they often see ads online for something that they have already bought.

In terms of how this translates to taking action against seeing ads online, 19% of connected adults say they always use adblocker software, with a further 37% ‘sometimes’ doing so. Combined, that’s more than half (56%) of connected adults engaging in ad blocking.

Slightly older, heavy online purchasers are one of the key adblocker groups

In terms of their demographics, although gender is relatively balanced, there is an interesting fluctuation by the ‘life stage’. Data from Kantar Media’s Q3 2017 TGI study into the behaviour and characteristics of British adults reveals that whilst ad blockers are 53% more likely than the average British adult to be in the ‘Flown the Nest’ TGI Lifestage group (age 15-34 not married/living as a couple, do not live with relations) and 27% more likely to be ‘Nest Builders’ (age 15-34, married/living as a couple, do not live with son or daughter), they are also 26% more likely to be ‘Unconstrained Couples’ (age 35-54, married/living as a couple not married/living as a couple, do not live with son or daughter).

Whilst the younger consumer’s engagement with ad blocking is a little more intuitive to understand, it is worth looking more deeply into the Unconstrained Couples’ relationship with online. TGI data shows that whilst they are no more likely than the average adult to be at the more extreme end of time spent on the internet each week, they are 90% more likely to buy online more than once a week. We can speculate that as they spend time browsing and purchasing online, they are increasingly alienated by the volume and/or the relevance of the ads that they are shown.

Techy, offbeat and with a passion for gaming – understanding the adblocker user

TGI data reveals that adblocker users are 65% more likely than the average British adult to participate in a virtual world, 44% more likely to use the internet for tech-related purposes and 22% more likely to state that they love to buy new gadgets and appliances.

Beyond technology, ad blocker users also show a liberal, slightly offbeat streak in their attitudes. They are 22% more likely to believe that cannabis should be legalised, 20% more likely to declare they prefer to eat vegetarian foods and also 20% more likely to say they would never think of taking a package holiday.

But if you really want to cut through to ad blockers, one key way would be to appeal to their love of gaming. TGI data shows that they are 44% more likely to be categorised within the TGI gaming segment ‘Absolute Gamers’ (those who live and breathe gaming in their attitudes and behaviours), 38% more likely to say they like to keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments in the video games industry and 28% more likely to rate playing video games as their favourite past time.

Adblocker users potentially more receptive to advertising than you may think

Thus, clearly there are a variety of hooks that can be leveraged to cut through to and engage with ad blocker users. However, much will depend on how receptive they might be. A closer look at the DIMENSION report data shows they could be significantly more receptive than you might expect. 55% of those who use adblocker software claim to like or tolerate advertising, suggesting that their concerns are with aspects of it, rather than advertising as a whole.

In addition, the same proportion of connected adults who use adblockers agree that ads specifically shown or tailored to them are more interesting than other ads, as connected adults as a whole (31%). Similarly, 30% of connected adults as a whole say they do not mind seeing advertising targeted to them if it helps to pay for quality content on sites they visit. The figure for those who use adblockers is 29%.

We can surmise in conclusion that adblocker users are far from a closed book as far as their potential engagement with commercial messages is concerned. They also display a variety of differentiating behaviours and attitudes that can be leveraged in order to engage them. Thus, the future of ad blocking need not be bleak for the online advertising community, so long as these consumers are fully understood and appropriately targeted.  

*This is an abridged version of a fuller article that appeared in Marketing Tech News. To view the full piece, please click here. 

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