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MBPT Spotlight: Want to Combat Mobile AdBlock Software? Offer Users Ads That Are Engaging and Interactive

Mobile advertising has hit a road block — or, rather, an ad block.

Defined as "software in a web browser which prevents ads from loading," mobile adblock originated from European mobile carriers who felt threatened by search engines like Google. Adblock software's popularity stems from the proliferation of stagnant, uncreative and downright annoying advertising strategies.

With pop up videos and banner ads catalyzing 400 million users to download AdBlock Plus since 2006, this begs the question: Why are marketers still using the same tired tactics from desktop on mobile? The time has come for the banner ad and pop up advertising to settle into retirement, just as the banner ad celebrated its 20th birthday.

Today, mobile users want to be engaged by mobile ads and interact with a brand on their terms. Mobile advertising strategies must follow suit by not forcing ads on users’ screens. Yet the uptick in adblock software shows this has yet to materialize, as banners and pop ups still rein.

Now software like AdBlock Plus have cornered large players like Google, Microsoft and Amazon by stifling a key revenue stream. PageFair estimated Google lost a cringe-worthy $6.6 billion in revenue last year to the hands of digital ad blockers.

Facebook has acted by introduced Instant Articles, so now content loads significantly faster than the sites of major news publishers. Slow load times is a sure-fire way to have users abandon ship and move on to another web page. Facebook realized this and took action so that advertising did not impede their user experience.

The “Buy” button functionality has the potential to offer a much needed ‘native’ solution, as major players like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest begin to roll out what could be the future of mobile advertising.

Content promoted by the “Buy” button acts as just another post, yet pushes products that allow for simple and quick purchases resulting from the initial click. Relevant, native and personalized, this approach allows ads to dodge ad blocks, but also become an engaging and trusting part of the user's experience.

The advertising industry is trying to fight fire with fire in the battle against ad-blockers. Sourcepoint offers a solution to publishers that can block adblock software, inserting new ads over those that were originally blocked. Yet this does not solve the actual problem of intruding advertising nor address the deep-rooted issues behind digital advertising to date. The long-term answer for advertisers is to create compelling, native and non-intrusive ads that users do not consider as "click bait."

Instagram's "sponsored posts" accomplishes just this. It provides brands with targeted yet organic advertising to a users’ feed. A report examined by Fast Company shows that Instagram has the most engagement and the highest conversion from browser to shopper, and notes “92% of luxury brands that post an average of 5.5 times a week on Instagram increase their customer base.”

Mobile companies who offer quality products for free, often rely on advertising as a primary source of revenue. Taking away a key source of revenue could stifle innovation and prevent users from enjoying quality products for free — like we are accustomed to.

If the multi-billion dollar industry wants to progress, banner and pop up ads must stop and advertisers must reshape users’ attitudes towards digital advertising through quality, personalized and enjoyable branding and advertising campaigns.

We saw the television industry evolve from informational advertisements to fun and entertaining ads that viewers actually enjoy watching. Now is the time for the age of creative mobile advertising strategies to shine.

Not only do banner ads and pop ups produce a weaker ROI compared to creative, native campaigns, but they leave users with a sour taste in their mouth towards the brands that may linger indefinitely.

Lelait is responsible for leading operations and growth at San Francisco-based mobile marketing agency Fetch in the U.S., after relocating from the agency’s London office, where he served as group account director for several clients including eBay,, William Hill, Debenhams, Supercell and Sony Music. Prior to joining Fetch, Lelait managed creative efforts for PhoneValley in the U.K., working across the Digitas and Razorfish agencies in mobile and providing strategy to brands including McDonald’s, Nissan, NSPCC, Pfizer, Purina and Shell.