Before You Worry About Ad-Blocking Apps, Consider These Four Tips


by Chris Lucas

Unless you’re still relying on skywriting as your primary advertising method, you’ve most likely heard that Apple’s new iOS 9 operating system allows the downloading (and use) of ad-blocking apps from the App Store.Android has quickly followed suit by allowing the most popular ad-blocking software into the Google Play store.

These applications allow users to block display ads and other intrusive media from their browsing experience, leaving a lot of marketers wondering whether their mobile efforts are now moot.

Thinking about what’s at stake in your own mobile marketing campaigns? First, take a deep breath. Then, read these four tips.

1. Assess whether your mobile efforts are converting

Before throwing up your hands and wondering whether skywriting might actually be a good idea after all, take a look at your current mobile advertising conversion rates to understand how much of a threat ad-blocking could be to your marketing efforts. See how well your campaigns are performing, and calculate the average value of your mobile leads to determine how much you can experiment with other advertising techniques.

Note that the latest ad-blocking technology is available only for newer model iPhones and iPads that support iOS 9. So consumers who are still using older mobile devices (or those who don’t have the storage capacity to upgrade) will not have access to these ad-blocking applications.

2. Make sure your reporting methods aren’t affected

If you plan to continue your current mobile advertising volume, check with your reporting and analytics platform to make sure your tracking won’t also be blocked by these ad-blockers. Some marketers have found that their Google Analytics tracking needed to be re-activated on mobile devices or was blocked altogether. Most software providers that enable JavaScript or other analytics tracking have provided messaging on their site or through their support staff about the update, so make sure you’re able to continue monitoring conversions before scaling your campaigns.

3. Remember that these apps are for the benefit of the user

More than half of mobile activity in the US occurs in Safari, so it’s natural for users to want an uninterrupted browsing experience via Apple’s browser. After all, you’ve probably experienced, while reading an article, the frustration of accidentally launching a random video while trying to scroll. It’s worth remembering that these apps aren’t set out to ruin the marketer; instead, the intent is to create a seamless experience for the user.

Ad-blocking technology is still being refined. One top ad blocker developer already killed his popular app because he felt it was unethical to block all revenue-driving ads on free sites. As these apps become more sophisticated, they might begin to differentiate relevant, helpful ads from the more spammy ones.

Try refining your targeting or testing some more personalized messages to see whether the enhancements result in more traffic or conversions. More mobile users are willing to let marketers catch a glimpse into their online activity for a more tailored browsing experience, so use such behavior to your advantage.

4. Allocate some of your budget to testing native ads

Consider creative alternatives to traditional display ads—alternatives that can be tracked easily and aren’t blocked. For example, test sponsored LinkedIn messages or other social media advertising to experiment with a more tech-savvy set of leads. As mentioned, more consumers will be interested in your content if it’s personalized to their interests, so message a relevant webinar from your VP of marketing on LinkedIn or sponsor a Facebook survey in exchange for a Starbucks card.

If you’re concerned about your high-performing mobile campaigns, try advertising on mobile apps that require users to view an ad before proceeding with their freemium game. Affiliate (or referral) marketing is another good option because it turns loyal customers into brand advocates. Try sending a unique referral link to your most devoted customers and offer a discount or swag in exchange for new business.