To block or not to ad block – a Hobson's choice?

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.

To block or not to ad block – a Hobson’s choice?
Kitty Bartholomew

Ad blockers have been around for many years. They’ve been a thorn in the side of ad tech since the birth of the technology but recent weeks have seen an explosion of digital emotions prompted by Apple’s announcement that it has included a new web blocking tool called Ad Block, straight into the Safari browser on iOS9. Take up of iOS9 is expected to be swift and total, so any advertiser buying web ads, and any publisher who is reliant upon web ads for part or all of their revenue, will be concerned, worried, and probably very frustrated. But how will ad blockers affect the wider digital advertising landscape?

Blis attended ATS London this month, where a lively series of debates took place across a range of ad tech hot topics. A defining feature of ATS is the strong presence of advertisers, agencies and publishers, as well as the usual army of ad tech providers. Without doubt, the liveliest debate of the day was focused upon ad blocking. This debate also featured the bravest attendee of the day, as Roi Carthy, CEO of Shine, squared up against a passionate array of experts, in order to defend ad blocking.

Shine asks this thought-provoking question on the homepage of its website: “Who’s Monetizing Your Pipe?” Prosaic, but on point.

A number of views were aired at ATS, but the debate really came down to two options:

· Do we give consumers the choice to reject the revenue source of the free content they enjoy consuming so much?

· Or should consumers be forced to accept that free is not free, and content is paid for with attention and data?

Blis takes the view that the advertising model has done an extraordinarily fine job of keeping the consumer web free at the point of use for twenty years. Users have accepted the implicit contract that the presence of advertising enables news, entertainment, services, and apps of all kinds to be consumed by customers at no financial cost.

Who loses?

Anyone in the ad tech industry can see that there are a few key players who are likely to get burned as ad blocking hits the mainstream. But the real losers stand to be consumers themselves who install the software.


Because the rise of ad blockers and the attention that is focused on them right now has forced this question for content providers firmly out into the open:

“Will you, the User, block our ads? If you do, should we, the Publisher, in return block you?”

Who wins?

Advertisers and technology providers who are responsibly gathering more user data like location behaviour, and properly leveraging it to improve targeting are now in the driving seat. This includes a range of mobile ad technology providers, as well as the data platforms focused on connecting the dots.

Blis is a buyer of ads, and we run vital campaigns for our agency customers who want to pay for that content on behalf of the user. So, yes, we like ads, and we want ads to be available to interested users in as many places as we can. These ads must be good ads, well-designed and not overly intrusive to the user experience. The advertising industry has been in challenging situations before and has always overcome them with creativity and innovation.

Location equals relevance

Blis and the rest of the digital ad industry can play its part in this battle by making those ads as entertaining and relevant as we can, something we do by seeking out audiences whose location-based context suggests that they want to see our ad message.

This is what consumer are telling us! It’s no mystery that consumers widely prefer highly relevant ads to ads lacking personal context. A survey performed by the makers of one of the most popular desktop ad blockers, Adblock Plus, even suggests that 41% of ad blocker users would no longer feel the need to use blocking tech if ad content was simply deemed “relevant” to them.

If that user blocks our ad, we will find another user for our ad. The affected publisher though, has lost the money we spent. Millions of those blocked events per day across the internet means less money for publishers, less investment in their product, and a decline of content quality and quantity. This can lead, and has led, to the retreat of content behind a paywall, or simply to disappear altogether.

Each user faces a choice. Receive the ad, or block the ad. The choice made has a consequence, and users must be ready to accept that consequence.

Relevance is the key. Yes, the industry needs to continue to find the right ways to gather consumer data in a more transparent and transactional way to properly power that relevance. But if the world wants the information publishers share on the Internet to remain free, then more contextual advertising, that feels native, is targeted to consumers in the appropriate location and the right time, is in the best interest of everyone: publishers, advertisers, and consumers.

To watch the ATS debate on Ad Blocking, go here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Kitty Bartholomew Kitty Bartholomew, Marketing Manager at Blis
Most recent blog posts
Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores


Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores

Interested in understanding how to connect mobile experiences to physical stores? Or how mobile can be the extension of a retailer’s store? Maybe you’ve wondered about the new Cost-Per-Visit metric? Look no further. Blis’ location data experts will be answering these questions on a weekly basis over the next few months in our ‘Retail Series’ which aims to equip retail marketers with the right insights and top tips to stay ahead of the game.

Following its decision to buy e-commerce company last year, Walmart recently agreed to acquire Bonobos, a retailer with a strong online presence and generous shipping policies. If these moves weren’t sign enough that the physical and digital retail worlds are merging, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the ultimate wake-up call.

Retailers everywhere are realizing that while brick and mortar stores are still critical, they’ll need a strong digital strategy to keep them filled with happy customers. Mobile devices are retailers’ golden ticket to connecting with consumers and reviving in-store shopping.

Understanding Consumers though Mobile

Whether they are going to work or going shopping, consumers carry their phones with them wherever they go. As a result, mobile devices provide retailers with a constant stream of valuable consumer insights. GPS and Wi-Fi data can tell retailers, for instance, whether a consumer is at a desktop at work, connected to Wi-Fi at home, or walking past a retailer’s store.

Beyond real-time location data, retailers can use historical location data to understand a consumer’s habits. For example, some consumers might visit a luxury jewelry brand on Fifth Avenue just to browse, even if they have no intention (or monetary means!) of buying. Thus, for that specific retailer, in-store visits may not indicate ideal customers. Instead, that luxury retailer can look at historical location data to identify their ideal consumers: perhaps individuals who frequently stay at the Four Seasons Hotel or regularly check in to exclusive country clubs.

But retailers shouldn’t rely on mobile data alone. By layering mobile insights with other valuable sources of data, advertisers can gain a holistic picture of their perfect audiences. Data collected from laptops, for instance, can reveal browsing histories and online shopping patterns; however, consumers won’t be opening up their laptops while shopping in stores. The trick is for retailers to match the data across devices to unique mobile device IDs. Only then will they gain a more holistic understanding of consumers and will be able to target or retarget them with products they are likely to go buy.

Driving Foot Traffic Creatively

Once they’ve gotten a clear and thorough understanding of their ideal audiences, how can retailers use mobile devices to drive foot traffic? Proximity targeting—delivering ads to consumers when they come within a certain distance of a store location—is a common approach. Retailers can maximize the power of proximity targeting by crafting unique and imaginative creatives.

For instance, advertisers can deliver ads to shoppers already in the area to tell them about an in-store sale, or offer them a coupon they can only redeem in person. Retailers can also deliver ads that feature a handy map telling consumers how to find their store.

Sometimes, targeting consumers when they are walking by a store may be a little too late. A QSR wanting to boost its 10 am breakfast crowd, for instance, may want to target consumers when they wake up around 7a and begin planning their day. Otherwise, the consumer has most likely already made their breakfast choice.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for retailers looking to connect with consumers and drive in-store sales, a strong mobile strategy is key. As the digital and physical worlds continue to blend, retailers must harness the insights and capabilities of mobile to reach their unique brand objectives.

Tune in next week to read all about how mobile is fast becoming the extension of a retailer’s store.

Read more

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

© Blis 2017 | Registration Number: 06455773 | Privacy