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Ad Blockers Are Just a Symptom of Bad Marketing

November 6, 2015  •  By Larry Jordan

[Originally published on Oct. 31, 2015 by Larry Jordan.]

Andy Marken, head of Marken Communications, recently send me the following commentary on the new trend for ad-blocking software.

Some interesting ideas here designed to give us something to think about. (I made a few small edits for clarity.)


– – –

Andy Marken writes:

Kids can be such a pain:

  • Mine doesn’t watch TV but he streams a bunch of stuff to his tablet/smartphone
  • He loves to tell me how Stewart Brand was right at one of the earliest Hackers Conferences – information wants to/needs to be free
  • He doesn’t like ads, isn’t even influenced by them

To help him on his quest for straight-from-the-source information/entertainment, people developed the ad blocker app, promising that life is going to be great. Or, it’s doomed if you’re the advertiser/delivery mechanism rather than the target.

Wrong, on so many levels.

First, look up the complete definition on Wikipedia.

Second, someone has to be paid to prepare that information and produce/perform your entertainment.

People don’t hate ads (and they are influenced by them) but:

  • They hate bad ads.
  • They ignore, tune out irrelevant, average, mediocre ads (most of the ads that are out there)
  • They hate seeing the same ad five times an hour because someone thought you missed it the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd time.
  • They hate fire hose ads.
  • They hate buying something online and before it’s received (even if it’s next-day delivery) they get five more recommendations.
  • They hate pop-up, drop-down ads that return even when they’re deleted.
  • They hate ads on their mobile device that get in the way of them doing something important – responding to a text or email, playing a game, watching something.
  • They hate mobile ads that suck up expensive download time they’re paying for.
  • They hate overly aggressive ad delivery folks who want to flood more devices to make more money.

They don’t hate ads. They hate tons of mediocre crap!

Print always had a somewhat unwritten rule of 60/40 news vs. ads. That shrunk along with the size/thickness of the publications.

TV figured a one-hour show could support about 22 minutes of commercials and promotional announcements sandwiched into 44 minutes of content. That gave everyone time for a refreshing/refreshment break.

Mobile reading/viewing meant you take it with you; and when you dropped it, you bought a new one rather than drying/using it ever again.

Ad blocking and the demise of content providers are as old as black and white TV. Zenith introduced their laser gun that did something and ad folks were sure they were dead.

TiVo came along and it was the ad skipper, show keeper of the ages. Roughly one million were sold and probably 10 million shows are still on them … along with the ads. As for their new “breakthrough?” Whooppee!

Lots of folks have downloaded ad blockers but ad blockers, skippers for video and content are so yesterday.


Got ‘Em, But – Millions have downloaded ad blockers but the number of heavy users is still seriously in question, especially when users find that the blockers also block some of the meaningful content and don’t have much effect if you go to specific web sites. Big sites that are used to big pop-ups and drop-downs do have problems, but they can be “whitelisted” if you really want to/need to go there. But people who put the user/viewer first, rather than ad pumpers, could be collateral damage.

A recent Nielsen report found that the global level of trust/interest in ads among millennials (the target audience for blockers/skippers) has remained high with 63 percent of the folks saying they trust TV ads somewhat or completely.

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