Mobile ad blockers – is it time to re-think financial digital marketing strategies?

David Rushton

Head of Digital

Posted on May 5, 2017

Ad blockers are nothing new. Desktop ad blockers have been around for nearly two decades now. And over the last 12 months, both Apple and Android have introduced extended support for mobile ad blockers. So you might be thinking that I’m a little late in writing this blog!

Well, I’m not writing this blog as a ‘breaking news’ piece, but we came across some very interesting statistics earlier this week – in that nearly 63% of mobile traffic is impacted by ad-blocking. With mobile making up over 50% of web traffic in the UK, a little maths tells us that 31.5% of our online ads might not actually be being shown (on mobile alone)!

What do ad blockers do?

Ad blockers are launched when a visitor loads a web page. They scan the web page code for references to known ad network (and sometimes analytics!) code. If any matching code is found, they either remove the code completely or replace the code with something else. Either way the visitor doesn’t see the ad.

The impact on financial marketers

For too many marketers ad networks have become the ‘go-to strategy’. The methodology is simple – find websites that the target audience visits and use the Google Display Network (or other network) to strategically place banners ads that promote the offering. Then sit back and watch as the traffic rolls in.

The problem is that as more people use ad blockers, less traffic will roll in. In addition, if you’re targeting emerging markets as part of your product offering, the use of ad blockers is even more prolific in these markets – where bandwidth is expensive and visitors are more sensitive to page load times.

Lastly, publishers may not always quote ad blocking figures in their visitor statistics. They may quote ‘x’ number of monthly visitors, but omit the fact that ‘y’ visitors have ad blockers installed. If you’re not using a programmatic ad buying model and approaching publishers directly, you might be over-paying for your ad space.

The way forward – a balanced digital marketing strategy

I’m not about to advocate that we should cease advertising on third party websites – despite recent developments, this can still be a worthwhile strategy. However this must be part of an overall, balanced digital marketing strategy. It’s a case of ‘don’t put all of your eggs into one digital basket’. Consider including a mix of:

Paid search

Google Adwords and similar platforms are a very powerful way of capturing web users who are searching on specific keywords, which demonstrate an intent to buy. For example if you’re marketing asset management services and a web user is searching for ‘asset management company in london’ – it’s a safe bet they have an intent to engage with a company like yours.

Co-authored content

This has become an extremely powerful way of reaching an audience. Rather than directly advertising on websites that your audience visit, why not co-author a piece of content with them? Ads are often ignored, they become part of the ‘white noise’ on a webpage. A well written piece of content, that delivers value to your audience is more difficult to ignore and portrays you as an authority within the market.

Content and inbound marketing

Creating strong content on your website, optimising it for search and promoting it on social media is another excellent way of driving relevant traffic to your website. Our whitepaper covers this in more detail and our recent blog describes content generation strategies to maximise returns.

Social media advertising

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn advertising are less susceptible to ad blockers. If you’re marketing B2B financial products, consider using LinkedIn adverts and sponsored updates to reach your audience. If you’re a B2C provider, then Facebook might be a good choice. What’s more, these platforms offer far more advanced targeting options than broadcast display advertising – so you can fine tune the traffic that’s generated.

A quick note on Analytics

Ad blockers sometimes block Analytics and visitor tracking scripts – making these visitors invisible in your own web stats. Check your Analytics statistics against those in your server logs. You might find you have significantly more web traffic than you think!