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My name's Joel Kelly and I live in Halifax, NS.

I'm a 20something guy doing digital and social media strategy for a Halifax-based marketing agency.

I'm a vegan nerd and marketing asshole.

You should follow me on Twitter.

Contact me about whatever (like, say, your marketing questions) at

Friday, July 25, 2008

If Adblock scares you, quit

If you're an online marketer and you think Adblock Plus is going to kill the online ad industry, you're an idiot. Quit, and make room for the rest of us a little quicker. I mean, you're going to be out on your ass soon enough anyway, right?

Why Adblock Matters

Yes, the ads we make, and the ads we buy space for, can be blocked by Adblock, for the most part. They're Flash ads, usually, served via a javascript tag. Adblock can pretty easily allow users to stop them from loading.

We typically make and buy standard ad units. Standard ad units have, well, standard architectures. Standard ads can be easily blocked but, let's face it, they're just as easily ignored. So standard ad units are a problem even if the user doesn't even have Adblock running.

Oh noes?!, right? We're done for, right?

Why Adblock doesn't matter

Because, like I just said, standard ads are already a problem. These are exactly the kinds of things that advertisers should be trying to stop cluttering up websites with. Advertisements can allow sites to generate money, can allow users to have access to the content they want (by paying for its delivery for them), without being stupid, without being intrusive, and without being pointless.

Only the sketchy advertisers who serve up ads that just piss people off are, and should, be scared right now.

Look, site publishers need to make money if they're going to be doing what they do full-time. That's just how it works. Selling advertisements lets them do this.

But the advertising space they sell is usually easily ignored by users, or even worse, annoying to them.

Thing is, those type of annoying/invisible (too often it's only one or the other) ads are the ones most easily blocked. So what do we do? Well, we stop using standard, boring, annoying, intrusive, pointless standard ad units.

And, the thing is, thinking a little bit outside the Big Box (the standard 300x250 pixel unit) is the kind of direction we should be going. Oh, and they're more difficult to block. Oh, and users will be less inclined to block them anyway.

Why advertisers and publishers need to smarten up

Because the users already have. Website visitors have already learned to ignore the first 100 pixels or so of websites. They know there's just going to be an ad up there, so why pay any attention?

Advertisers and publishers need to smarten up because there's so much potential out there, opportunities to let advertisers sponsor your website instead of you just whoring it out to them. Let advertisers spend their money on making your site accessible to your visitors. They're willing to do that if there's something in it for them. Well, they should be at least.

That something? An opportunity to talk, a little bit, to your audience, too. An opportunity to let your audience know that they're helping out, that they're footing the bill for the cost of you running your cool website.

And they can do that by making intriguing wallpapers, by getting sponsorship taglines in your RSS feed, by sponsoring your contest and paying for the prizes, or by running static ads as background images in your site's remnant space. Basically, by helping you deliver your content to your visitors. By being a part of the team.

Adblock should scare bad advertisers and lazy publishers

Because bad advertisers just want to interrupt the users and force-feed them a message. And because lazy publishers just want to toss some AdSense boxes around the page, or sign up for another sketchy ad network.

If you're scared of Adblock, well, I guess you should be.


Alex said...

Point well taken! However, what about advertisers seemly endless apatite for reporting statistics. Advertisers will need to be able to see the value beyond the click rate of having their message projected to users in a sponsorship fashion. Still haven't found the function in DART that gives me a "goodwill" report....
Your thoughts?

Joel Kelly said...

You're absolutely right, advertisers need to smarten up (and then they need to educate their clients), about the fact that clickthrough is a pretty terrible way of measuring a campaign's success. We do need to more in-depth conversion tracking, more research, more... work. It seems like every week there's a new study or new report hammering home the point that CTR barely, if at all, matters. If we're going to find a better measure for ROI, it's going to take some more work. That simple.

But work costs money, and when a client can just request a CTR report instead of having to invest money in actually finding out if a campaign was successful they'll usually err on the side of cheapness.

The "goodwill" report would be surveying people who visited the site (or just people in your demo) and finding out if their opinions on the brand/product have changed, if they purchased or plan to purchase. Things like that. That's tougher in a smaller market, but it's worth some of the larger brands giving it a shot.