The following is a guest contributed post By Moshe Vaknin, CEO & Founder of YouAppi.
Despite the existence of ad blocking technology since the 1990s and early 2000s, ad blocking has only become a challenge for digital publishers and marketers in the last few years.
So how are marketers to acquire new users for their applications in a world where more and more ads are being blocked?
- Use less intrusive ads: With Google recently announcing that mobile sites should avoid showing app install interstitials that hide a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page, the search and digital advertising pioneer made its pitch for less intrusive mobile advertising. Truth be told, intrusive marketing has always hurt marketing as an industry (even if it helps certain ad tech vendors achieve short-term goals) – from pop-up banner ads in the early 2000s to the retargeted ad for those shoes you already bought that followed you online for weeks.
To make our advertising more effective we need to instill a set of best practices which focus on making ads more engaging and less intrusive. These best practices should include frequency capping across all of the networks running our campaigns (instead of merely applying a per network frequency cap), better ad creative – ads standing out without annoying prospective clients, more effective ad placement –ads not running on pages/apps/sites with too many other ads.
Given the vast number of partners involved in creating, buying and placing ads on a nearly unlimited list of sites and apps, it is more difficult to check that every ad / placement (than it is on TV or print), but as an industry, we can all do a better job to make every customer engagement as un-intrusive and as engaging and informative as possible.
- Focus on conversions and not on clicks: Why are so many ads intrusive? Because users clicked on the ad and users can’t be wrong. But it doesn’t matter how many users clicked. The metric that marketers and agencies need to focus on is conversions – be they items purchased, newsletter sign-ups, items placed in shopping carts – whatever metric is the best indicator of future revenue and profitability. And that metric – which varies from marketer to marketer and even from campaign to campaign – should be the one around which campaigns are optimized.
- Run user acquisition campaigns on partner lists: One of the most effective user acquisition tactics is running campaigns on partners’ lists. If you have partners in complementary industries, why not reach out to create a program where each uses their internal list to acquire users for the other company. Even if one company has a more expensive product or many more users, you can always create a business model which will benefit both partners.
- Run native advertising campaigns: In addition to Google’s aforementioned policy changes, there are many in the industry that are concerned with Apple’s iOS 9 update which enables iPhone owners to download ad blockers. Given that Apple, unlike Google, makes the lion’s share of its revenue from hardware, Apple is less concerned with the needs of publishers and advertisers.
One way to get around many if not all ad blockers is by running native ads which have been created in conjunction with OR by the publisher which closely resemble the look and feel of the site or app on which they run. Native ads tend to run on a much more limited and far less intrusive basis than banner ads, which is why they are often accepted by ad blockers.
- Use Data (and try cohort analysis): As I wrote earlier, it’s critical to focus on conversions and not clicks. And the only way to focus on conversions is to be data-driven in your marketing.
A data-intensive marketing technology gaining steam in predictive analytics and user acquisition is cohort analysis. A subset of behavioral analytics, cohort analysis involves breaking channels and users into related groups sharing common characteristics, experiences (post-install events) and close Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within a defined timespan. Through deep actionable cohort analysis it’s possible to detect patterns and trends across the lifecycle of the consumer which enable determining the best marketing programs for each cohort / set of users.
As onerous as ad blocking is, it’s the next stage of the evolution of marketing. The marketers that will succeed are the ones ready to make the transition to the ad blocking era.