Social Data and Ad Blocking

The three speakers kicked off this panel by describing ad blocking as a divisive topic, as a symptom of past marketing happenings gone wrong. Previous turmoil of “eroded consumer experience” brought about the brute force tool that customers now use to take back control of their web usage, that being ad blocking. Much of what lies behind this movement holds its roots in privacy, experience and user ability – all areas where consumers feel threatened. And as more and more users are shifting their focus to mobile utility, a new world of conflict is being explored in that.

Ad Blocking 1

Larry Furr, Vice President of Product at Ghostery, spoke about his company’s role in all of this as one of the world’s biggest ad blocking services. He stated that most consumers are not comfortable with how their data is being collected and used. Furr also dropped a surprising fact that even many site owners are surprised about how much activity is on their website from third-party users once they use Ghostery’s features. Matt Asay, VP of Mobile for Digital Marketing at Adobe, added onto this statement by saying that, instead of the concern being around privacy, people similar to him use ad blockers because he finds that the so-called ‘personalized’ ads that he receives aren’t even that unique at all. There has to be a threshold, the right amount of relevance to the consumer. Asay continued to add that “consumers want these personalized experiences” but more often than not, a past purchase will follow you around between web pages for about three weeks before disappearing entirely.

Just as there are people who truly enjoy personalization, there also exist those who are simply “horrified by [targeted] advertising”. And from this exact thought process, marketing has slowly gone rogue and hides underground most of the time. Ads on websites start to look more normalized, tucked away in the sides of web pages. These “insidious tactics”, as mentioned in this panel, are becoming increasingly popular at the same rate of ad blockers usage. And this trend makes sense because, if you think about it, this process of ad blocking is “one of the largest consumer boycotts in history” shared Sean Blanchfield, CEO & Co-Founder of Pagefair.

So how do you stop this all from becoming an arms race backlash? – Sean Blanchfield, PageFair

His answer? Find the core issues and fix them before people leave.

Some closing notes shared by our panelists were that the primary objective here is to build amazing customer experience. With fewer conflicts, consumers can put more trust into websites again and the “impotence behind ad-blockers will [hopefully] go away”. And to that end facilitate real personalization. Genuine communication through web interactions is how organizations can facilitate more trust so that their users will feel more at ease with letting ad blockers go.

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