The Arms Race: Blocking Ads

I was at a dinner the other night and someone mentioned ad blocking. Because we live in the PR silo most days I’m not always privy to what is happening in the digital ad realm, which isn’t great, but not entirely deadly. Anyway, I looked it up. Interesting. Ok, let’s be honest, online advertising, especially pop ups (kind of out of nowhere), are really a bummer. Where is that disembodied voice coming from, I don't have the television on. Oh, it’s this weird ad that I can’t even see. What is he saying??? I think that’s called ‘ad fraud’ friends.

So, ad blocking. A group of concerned citizens got together and decided to create code that anyone can use to block ads, because they’re not only annoying they can also be costly. Like slowing your computer down, for instance. What I find really interesting and terribly annoying is cookies, but I digress. Obviously, ad blocking is a problem for a lot of marketers, and also publishers. I’ve always wondered about the vitality of banner ads, but some of the video material can capture my attention. And now this. For some in the business they liken it to an arms race, and it should throw a chill down the spine of many, but I see it as a tremendous opportunity. Maybe that’s because, as I said, our core competency is PR.

Here’s the thing…

3rd party endorsement and real time word-of-mouth marketing is ultimately so much more effective than advertising. What do people really want? Story and context. Tell me a story about your product, show me how it will live in my world and why I should care. This is powerful. More powerful than a half-naked woman drinking a shot of tequila. I’m much more likely to buy your elixir if you share a cool drink recipe that is going to knock my guest’s socks off, or warm me up on a cold winter’s night. Ad blocking might signal the end of a certain era, as call blocking did for telemarketers, but it also gives most of us people in the industry a chance to get our creative on.

How can we produce more excellent branded content, or even better how can we convince a publisher that a story we are pitching is actually worth telling? We have to work for it. I think I like it. The challenge. Smart marketers should too.