6 Reasons Why Mobile Ad-Blocking Is A Non-Starter for MNOs

Let’s talk location.

Get original insights, informed comment, and thought leadership from the team as well as from our partners and customers, as we shape the market together.

Mobile Ad-Blocking in the Network? Six reasons it’s a non-starter for MNOs
Andrew Darling


Mobile operator Three announced just before MWC in Barcelona that it plans to deploy ad-blocking technology network-wide, meaning users can opt-in to block ads on mobile Web and in-app, using technology from Israeli company Shine, which Three is an investor in.

The mobile operator is introducing the technology in the U.K. and Italy in the next few months ahead of a wider rollout to its 87 million global users. Tom Malleschitz, chief marketing officer at Three U.K., said that the goal is to give customers more “control, choice and transparency” over the ads they see.

The PR talks a good game about privacy and control, but is divorced from reality in several important ways. There are many reasons why trying to fix these issues in the network will never work:

  • First, 50-90 percent of smartphone use, and probably 90-95 percent of tablet use is over WiFi – and almost exclusively WiFi not provided by mobile network operators. Therefore, consumers will still get ads on their phones most of the time.
  • Second, the fastest-growing part of mobile advertising is in-app. And while some in-app traffic might be block-able, the “native” ads such as Facebook’s in-timeline ads won’t be. Facebook blends them in at the server, and encrypts it all. That’s not going to change, apart from becoming ever more-sophisticated.
  • Third, people who really want ad-blocking are likely to do it themselves, either with an app or browser-capability, or perhaps even in the OS. That way they can block ads on WiFi too.
  • Fourth, any network-level solution is held hostage to future modifications in Android and iOS which offer work-around options for advertisers. That might not be a bad thing, in that it could cut down on some of the worst pop-up offenders or most-egregious “cookie monsters”, but it won’t reduce the overall amount of ads.
  • Fifth, advertising and B2C engagement is changing anyway. Some of it is moving to apps, and some is moving to ads/interactions in messaging platforms e.g. ‘conversational commerce.’
  • Sixth, it risks all manner of embarrassing or legally-questionable side-effects. There will be false positives (blocking things that aren’t ads) and false negatives (failing to blocks ads at all). What happens when Operator A blocks an ad from Operator B, and the competition authorities take a dim view? Or blocks a government ad for submitting tax returns on time, or a charity’s disaster appeal? Put your PR and legal teams on danger-money….

The bottom line is that screaming headlines in stories about “the risk to Internet companies’ business models” are basically nonsense.

Yes, there are some possible upsides here. We could see a proportion of the nastiest pop-up ads being squashed, which is a good thing in most users’ eyes. But will that just shift mobile advertising to other inventory types or channels? And maybe for some very low-end users, in markets with low-end data plans and a preponderance of web vs. app traffic, it could make a worthwhile difference.

But for everyone else, I think it’s hugely overhyped. It’s unlikely to stop more than single-digit percentage of overall data traffic per user.

There’s a huge set of “gotchas” for the idea that mobile network operators can make a meaningful difference, given WiFi and in-app ads. Yes, it makes for fun controversial headlines and might allow telcos to stick another metaphorical finger up at net-neutrality. But it’s a sideshow, not something that will give Google and the rest of the mobile advertising any major industry sleepless nights.

Helping brands to win back audience trust

Instead, the industry must focus on delivering greater value for consumers by ensuring content is perfectly matched to their needs, and mobile data provides marketers with exactly the right insight to do so. Offering a detailed overview of consumer habits and activities, mobile data can be used to deliver effective, personalised content to consumers at the most opportune time and place — making it a key weapon in the battle against ad blocking.

Targeting based on accurate data

Mobile data is already facilitating better audience understanding and becoming coveted currency across the digital marketing industry as a result.

Consumers do not appear to object to advertising, with 71% of ad block users open to being served ads that meet acceptable criteria or are whitelisted. It is ads considered to be visual clutter, due to poor quality and irrelevance (cited by 64% of users), that drive consumers to block ads on mobile.

Delivering personalised content in real-time

Effective use of mobile data, particularly mobile location data, can help address this issue. With accurate data as a foundation, marketers can improve the efficiency, accuracy, and relevance of campaigns — delivering tailored content for the right individual, at the most appropriate time.

Speed is essential to capture consumer attention in the fast-paced digital world, yet marketers must engage their audience at the right time, which is not necessarily as soon as they look at their smartphone. By understanding the movements of consumers, mobile location data can highlight the best times to serve marketing messages, without being interruptive.

For brand marketers, this insight could drastically reduce the wastage of ads received at times when they are unlikely to be effective and boost engagement with ads delivered at exactly the right moment. For instance, mobile location data that shows consumers frequently topping up their shop mid-week could be extremely useful to food and drinks brands keen to optimise sales of seasonal produce in the run-up to Christmas.

Knowledge of the location of a consumer, their inclination to purchase, and their habitual activity can inform relevant, engaging marketing that transcends channels and devices. Mobile location data that shows a commuter regularly uses their smartphone on the way home and switches to their tablet once they arrive will provide a brand with the necessary knowledge to serve tailored cross-device messages that complement each other and reach the recipient at the optimal time.

With adblocking narrative likely to continue gaining headlines throughout 2016, marketers need to reflect on how, in the year ahead, the ad blocking battle can be won. By leveraging the growing pool of mobile data, brands can utilise actionable consumer insights to tailor campaigns across channels and ensure consumers are delivered compelling, relevant and timely content that they won’t want to block.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Andrew Darling is Communications Director at Blis. He is responsible for Blis’ global communications and PR activities, as well as marketing operations in APAC. Andrew is a seasoned tech marketing and communications expert, Chair of the IAB SG Mobile Committee and former Telecoms, Media and Technology journalist.
Most recent blog posts
3 Ways Retailers Can Use Mobile for Effective One-to-one Marketing


3 Ways Retailers Can Use Mobile for Effective One-to-one...

Today, mobile devices are like mini retail stores we carry around in our pockets: places where consumers can browse merchandise or place orders almost instantly.

But mobile devices also give consumers something they can’t get in stores: personalized marketing. Collecting data like shopping histories and browsing patterns, mmobile devices provide retailers with detailed insight into individual consumers and a means of communicating with them directly.

How can retailers use mobile insights and capabilities to craft effective, one-to-one messaging?

1. Get personal.

Today, consumers want—and expect—ads to speak directly to them. In fact, 74% of customers feel frustrated when their online experiences aren’t personalized.

The easiest way for retailers to personalize content is by harnessing their first-party data. If a customer purchases a dress online, the brand can use what they know about her (her fashion interests, browsing history and email address) to customize subsequent content. For example, the brand can serve an ad via email that suggests a pair of shoes to go along with the new dress.

With CRM data, the retailer can see what the woman bought online, but do they know what she’s purchased elsewhere? Or what she does when she’s not shopping? This is where location data comes in. Retailers that layer location-based insights on to other sources of data can get to know where and when consumers shop at brick and mortar stores. They can also identify other behavioral patterns, including which day of the week and time of day they like to go shopping—data can enables greater levels of personalization.

Let’s say a CPG brand wants to reach out to a previous customer who hasn’t been seen in store lately. The marketers can use their knowledge of the consumer’s daily commute to deliver the ad just before he leaves work, suggesting he stop by on his way home. They may even offer him a discount on the product he previously purchased.

2. Market to individuals, not devices.

Once retailer marketers have identified their ideal audiences on mobile, they shouldn’t see phones as the only means of communication. Consumers own an average of 3.6 connected devices, so retailers should communicate with consumers across the devices they use, including tablets, laptops, desktops and addressable TV.

However, if a retailer sees a user reading political news on the tablet all day but watching cartoons in the evening, it might not be the same same person. With families and partners sharing devices at home, marketers need to make sure they are constructing nuanced consumer profiles across devices in order to reach out to individuals, not just devices.

3. Don’t be creepy.

Personalized, cross-device marketing is on the rise in part because consumers are increasingly willing to disclose their data to retailers. After all, purchase histories and location data are essential for useful or interesting ads.

But how retailers use that data is key. Consumers want to feel understood, but they don’t want to feel like ads are invasive or drawing on data that’s simply too personal and private. Marketers need to make sure they aren’t crossing any personal boundaries or making consumers feel uncomfortable.

If marketers want to turn heads or, more importantly, turn consumers into buyers, they’ll need to do more than blast out generic ads to the masses. When retailers personalize ads with these three tips, they’ll see huge improvements in campaign performance.

But how, exactly, do they measure these improvements? Find out next week when we assess the best metrics for retailers.

Read more

Embracing the Retailer’s Dream Metric: Cost Per Visit


Embracing the Retailer’s Dream Metric: Cost Per Visit

The twentieth-century American engineer and statistician W. Edwards Deming once said, “Just because you can measure everything, doesn’t mean that you should.”

This applies to retailer struggles today as marketing executives need to decide what they should measure and how. Do they care about impressions, views or click-through rates? And once they figure that out, how can they make sure their ad dollars are really working? The Partnership predicts that ad fraud will cost brands over $16 billion this year alone, while Infectious Media suggests that over half of all digital ads aren’t seen at all.

Fortunately for retailers, there’s a new metric in town—one designed to eliminate waste and increase sales. With a cost-per-visit (CPV) model, retailers pay only when a consumer sees an ad and visits a specific location. Here are four ways retailers are benefiting from this cutting-edge new metric.

1) Increased Foot Traffic

With the National Retail Federation predicting eight to 12 percent e-commerce growth this year alone, no one can deny the rapid rise of online sales. However, 85 percent of consumers still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where 94 percent of all sales are generated. That’s why it’s vital for retailers to keep their physical stores alive and continue to enhance their in-store experiences.

With the explicit goal of bringing visitors into physical store locations, CPV is a metric for retailers wanting to increase foot traffic—and pay only for successful conversions. While there are many ways to boost in-store visits, today’s leading location data solutions use predictive location modeling. With Blis Futures, we choose to charge on a CPV-basis because we are completely confident in this approach.

2) Greater In-store Sales

Driving consumers into brick-and-mortar locations may also encourage consumers to buy more than they anticipated. It gives retailers the opportunity to upsell consumers so they need to make sure they clearly advertise their promotional pricing, point-of-purchase displays and loyalty programs. Once you have a potential customer in the store, you can push tailored messaging in real-time and create personalized promotions. As anyone that has ever been into a Target retail location can attest – you may go in for one specific item but end up unable to leave the store for less than $100! So only paying when a consumer sees an ad and then visits a physical location reaps multiples rewards for a marketer.

3) Branding Opportunities

When retailers buy ads on a cost-per-visit basis, they don’t pay if the consumer sees the ad but doesn’t come into the store. That means the retailer also benefits from ad views and branding. In fact, a consumer may see the ad and make a purchase online rather than in-store, but the marketer still pays nothing for that conversion. At Blis, we are willing to take that risk and allow marketers “free” branding messages. Our confidence in the technology behind our CPV metric allows us to think of marketers first.

4) Risk-free Investing

CPV transfers the risk from buyer to partner, so retailers don’t have to worry about wasted ad spend: They’re making a completely risk-free investment. With free branding and zero downside, retailers have nothing to lose.

When Blis became one of the first tech partners to offer the CPV model earlier this year, we sent a critical message to both retailers and the wider industry: We’re ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability in advertising.

Check back again next week when we switch gears to discuss how retailers can use mobile to boost engagement, retention and acquisition.

Read more

Closing the Retailer Purchase Loop: Solving the Challenge of Attribution


Closing the Retailer Purchase Loop: Solving the Challenge of...

You’re on your way to work when you pass a billboard featuring Nike’s newest running shoe. That reminds you: you just signed up for a half marathon, so you’ll need some new gear. You start googling top-of-the-line running shoes on your phone. You forget about the race until days later when looking at Facebook on your laptop, and there they are: the same shoes that caught your eye. Still, you won’t purchase them until you try them on. So what a pleasant surprise when, on your walk home, a banner ad appears across your phone: “You’re 3 minutes from a Nike store,” it says. Why not stop by?

If you go into that store and purchase those shoes, which ad was it that led to the conversion? Was it the original billboard, the social media ad, or the location-based banner? Perhaps a perfect combination of all three?

These questions reflect the challenges every marketer is currently facing when it comes to attribution. Today, a typical path to purchase is no longer a straight line to the point of sale. It looks more like a latticework of ads both online and offline, on our devices or in our neighborhoods.

Yet despite this added complexity, brands can begin to solve the mystery of attribution and determine the value of each marketing touchpoint. They just need to follow the footsteps.

Understanding Footsteps to Purchase

Brands can get a better understanding of which campaigns are boosting their ROI by taking a look at how digital ads directly relate to foot traffic.

First, advertisers can conduct an A/B test to determine which ads are bringing people into their brick-and-mortar retailers. By comparing how many devices were seen in store from an exposed group (devices that received an ad) to a control group (devices that didn’t receive an ad), brands can figure out what’s working and how well. This is the kind of study we conducted on a series of CPG brands earlier this year—where we found an astonishing 47 percent uplift in foot traffic for the exposed group.

Location data can also reveal more than just how many devices made it into stores. It can also tell advertisers the average time it takes for someone to enter a store after seeing an ad, or which locations are performing best. Brands can also layer this data with purchase histories and sales data for even more insightful stats and figures into how their customers are responding to ads.

So once brands have uncovered all these clues into what’s driving conversions and how, what do they do with it all?

Step Up Your Campaigns

Brands don’t strive for accurate attribution just for the sake of it. They want to know what’s causing conversions so they can do more of it—and cut out what might not be working at all.

An energy drink brand, for example, can use data about foot traffic and sales to make sure the next iteration of their campaign performs even better. Let’s say the brand discovers that people are 50 percent more likely to go into a store that stocks the energy drink when they receive an ad within 200 feet of the retailer. Rather than targeting everyone within 500 feet of the retailer, the brand can eliminate waste by just reaching out to those within a much smaller radius.

What if advertisers discover that no matter what distance, more people seem to be purchasing the energy drink from Walgreens than CVS? Perhaps next time, they can put a greater share of their ad budget into targeting those near Walgreens.

By solving some of the mysteries around attribution by finding which campaigns are driving sales, advertisers can continuously optimize their campaigns. And that means less waste and a greater bang for every marketing buck.

Read more

© Blis 2017 | Registration Number: 06455773 | Privacy