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    Q&A: Liam Galin – Ad Blocking Trend is Not About the Consumer Experience

    By Bobby McGill - Mar 8, 2018
    Q&A: Liam Galin – Ad Blocking Trend is Not About the Consumer Experience

    Following recent headlines about Google’s move to put a built-in ad-blocker in Chrome as well as laying out more stringent standards for how ads are being displayed and campaigns are run, many brands and publishers are wondering how all of this will affect them.

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    To garner some more insight, Branding in Asia recently caught up with the Liam Galin, President & CEO at digital marketing agency, Matomy.

    Galin offers up his take on the ad blocking trend, what’s driving it, where it’s heading, and how brands and publishers should react to the changing ecosystem online.


    Google said changes to Chrome were based on user feedback and complaints about disruptive ads. Critics charge that it is self-serving. What are ad blocking initiatives prioritizing?

    Ad blockers are driven by money, and not the consumer experience. While they maintain that their desire is to improve the online user experience or the overall quality of advertising, profits are their true motivation.

    Acting as both a key player and the gatekeeper simultaneously certainly amounts to undue influence, and smaller publishers and developers stand to lose out as a result.

    Ad blocking companies need to make money too, and they benefit from both data tracking and selective blocking of advertisements, some through the process of whitelisting.

    How will Google’s own ads be affected?

    Google Chrome’s ad blocker will block 12 intrusive ad formats based on guidelines set by the Coalition for Better Ads, of which Google is a board member, including full-page interstitial ads, ads with auto-playing sound and video, and flashing ads. According to Google, non-compliant sites will have all advertisements blocked, including Google’s own ads on those websites.

    Google Chrome’s ad blocking will help propel industry players toward in-app advertising, as the in-app platform offers better control over the content and format of ads. This shift will benefit brand advertisers and publishers, as in-app ads offer higher retention and click-through rates, less fraud, better data and thus better audience targeting.

    However, many are skeptical of Google blocking their own advertisements to the same degree and see undue influence at play. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google’s role in the Coalition’s guidelines-setting process was concerning to some Coalition members, who noted that the ad formats that underpin Google’s own advertising business are not blacklisted. Pre-roll video ads such as those on YouTube, a Google subsidiary, for example, are noticeably missing from the Coalition’s list of blocked ad formats.

    Others have said that the ad-block play is a positive and needed shakeup for digital media and the online advertising ecosystem. Your thoughts?

    There is no doubt that the online advertising ecosystem will benefit from a clean-up that will lead to less disruptive ad formats and less fraud. However, Google’s move is yet another example of the formidable advertising player setting standards and norms for the whole industry.

    Google’s global online advertising business is larger than the next five competitors combined, and Chrome is the most commonly used web browser in the world, making up almost 60% of the global market share, according to NetMarketshare.com. Acting as both a key player and the gatekeeper simultaneously certainly amounts to undue influence, and smaller publishers and developers stand to lose out as a result.

    At the same time, we believe Google Chrome’s ad blocking will help propel industry players toward in-app advertising, as the in-app platform offers better control over the content and format of ads. This shift will benefit brand advertisers and publishers, as in-app ads offer higher retention and click-through rates, less fraud, better data and thus better audience targeting.

    In a perfect world, where “intrusive” ads are a thing of the past, getting users to actually click remains an issue. Why should brands continue investing marketing dollars into banner ad campaigns?

    We recommend that brands invest their ad spend dollars in-app, specifically on in-app video. Consumers are spending more time than ever before on their phones – up to five hours a day – and 87% of that time is spent on mobile apps. In order to be successful, ads must be served to users where they are naturally inclined to spend their time, and in-app is the most popular destination.

    There is no doubt that the online advertising ecosystem will benefit from a clean-up that will lead to less disruptive ad formats and less fraud.

    A new study by ThinkTV found that video ads on mobile have a positive sales impact, and that Broadcaster Video-On-Demand on mobile has a higher sales impact than both Facebook and YouTube.

    What advice do you have for brands trying to get their message out there in a heightened ad-blocking ecosystem?

    With the popularity of ad blockers increasing, we foresee an industry shift toward in-app mobile advertising, where developers and publishers retain the most control over the format and content of their ads.

    As industry giants like Google and Facebook continue to build walled gardens and brands look for alternative revenue solutions, in-app will prove the best way over the wall and offer the additional benefits of higher conversion and click-through rates, more pinpointed data, and thus better targeting and ad campaign monetization.

     

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