Scott Seroka, Principal and Certified Brand Strategist at Seroka Brand Development contributed to this article.
Digital advertisers in the mortgage industry (retail lenders, service providers, etc.) have a right to be concerned about the increasing trend of ad blocking. According to The 2015 Ad Blocking Report by PageFair, there were 45 million users of ad blockers in the U.S. as of June of 2015. This number represents a 48% increase in 12 months!
Ad blocking is officially an issue for all brands that advertise online. This is a stark reminder for advertisers about how empowered consumers really are.
When telemarketers crossed the line with too many intrusive calls during dinner time, consumers fought back through the National Do Not Call Registry. When DVRs entered the market, consumers were able to blow through commercials in a matter of seconds, and Pandora enables its listeners to enjoy ad free radio for a modest fee. And, of course, people who receive repetitive, unwanted, irrelevant, and unsolicited emails can easily block the senders, or mark such irritating emails as spam.
What we are faced with today are ad-blockers used by consumers who are fed up with online ads that:
- Are intrusive
- Distract from their online experience
- Block them from reading desired content
- Are irrelevant
- Talk down to them
- Are poorly created or developed
- Offer/provide little or no value
In the olden days (you know, before 2002), the secret to a successful direct marketing campaign was based on three elements: 1) the quality of the mailing list (the recipients), 2) the creative approach, and 3) the offer. If an advertiser didn’t have their act together in any of these areas, a much greater portion of their direct mail pieces would suffer a nonstop flight from consumers’ mailboxes to the trash. (Question: Can you guess how many billions of dollars advertisers have wasted by employing “spray and pray” direct marketing practices?)
Today, these same three rules also determine the success or failure of online advertising. And unfortunately, some advertisers are either lazy or failing, causing people to fire up ad-blockers, blocking even high-quality ads served to them from all advertisers.
The good news is that consumers don’t hate online advertising. What they do hate are ads that intrude, interrupt, annoy and insult their intelligence. And, some are also worried about where their data is going and what will be done with it once they click. Based on how people interact on social media, it’s rather obvious that a fair share don’t mind giving up a little personal information or privacy in exchange for an enhanced online experience. But everyone has their limits.
According to HubSpot…
- 73 percent of people dislike online pop ups
- 70 percent dislike ads on their mobile devices
- 57 percent dislike the fact that they are forced to watch ads before they can watch a desired video
Therefore, it’s time for advertisers to think more strategically about what they are serving consumers online. If we wish to reverse the trend of ad blocking, we’ll need to give frustrated consumers a reason why. It must start with placing a priority-level focus on improving the entire user experience by increasing ad relevancy through better monitoring by the publisher and also decreasing the load times associated with many ads on publisher platforms.
Since ad blockers do exist and are used by so many, they’re not going away anytime soon. We as advertisers can only do our best to provide well developed and relevant ads so as not to be catalysts for more ad block software downloads.
Here are 3 tactics you can use to get your messages through to your target audience without being shut down by an ad blocker:
- Influencer marketing: This type of marketing taps into the large following of key industry influencers or influencers in the local communities you serve to get your name out there. For example, some bloggers are considered key influencers because of their large followings. A couple of key mortgage industry influencers would be Rob Chrisman, David Lykken with his radio show “Lykken on Lending” (@ on Twitter)and there are many more. Others could be those who do business with you that can write or record online video reviews of your product or service.
So why does influencer marketing work? Consider these 2 recent findings:
Influencer marketing is the fastest growing and most cost-effective channel. (Tomoson)
92% of consumers turn to people they know or trust for referrals above any other source. (Tapfluence and Influitive)
The key to influencer marketing is that it is not paid advertising or spun in any way by the advertiser or the influencer. The goal should be to develop a genuine, organic relationship with the influencer so that they will evaluate your offering or something newsworthy about you and choose to make their network aware of it.
- Sponsored content: Sponsored content is content that is written to be educational or entertaining and is then distributed by a publisher like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. The author pays the publisher for this distribution so that their content is seen by a larger audience and receives more clicks, shares or “likes.”
Sponsored content is created for the purpose of developing brand awareness. It is not overtly designed to sell a product or service. Rather its purpose is to drive a favorable image of the brand for its effort in educating or entertaining the reader. The key here is frequency in order to increase brand recall and consideration when a decision is imminent.
Here are a couple of examples of sponsored content in your LinkedIn feed.
- Native advertising: Native advertising is content in an online publication that looks like a story/article, video or infographic that provides great information, but also has an underlying advertising message. What makes this “native” is that the piece of content takes on the overall look and feel of other content in the publication. This “blending in” is what makes it much different from a typical banner ad, sidebar ad or pop-up. Publications typically put a label above the ad that reads “advertisement” or “sponsored” so that readers don’t feel deceived by the publication if they click through. Here’s an example of a native ad in National Mortgage News…
This type of advertising is gaining a lot of traction because the click-through rates are said to be 2 – 10 times higher! This is because, unlike with banner ads and other display type advertising, readers cannot “learn” to ignore them (called “banner blindness”) because they are actively engaged in reading editorial content already. True native advertising looks and even reads a lot like editorial content once you click through. Other times, when you click through, you’ll be taken to the advertisers own branded content, away from the publishers site.
Now, even though ad blocking is becoming a rising concern, that does not mean you should stop running online ads. Not by a long shot. The tactics mentioned above should be add-ons to your overall online advertising strategy, not replace anything. Each tactic used properly can help the buyer along his or her journey to decide who they will ultimately do business with.
If you found this article helpful, please share it on Facebook, LinkedIn or your social network of choice. Also, your comments and questions are always appreciated!
— John Seroka (@johnseroka) August 27, 2016