Adblockers: the people's vote against crappy digital advertising


If the latest installment of Advertising Week in New York (motto: raising the navel-gazing bar) is any indication, adblockers have got some people’s knickers in a real twist. The hyperbole, led by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, ranged from mild outrage (they destroy what makes the internet great) to downright Chicken Little (it’s highway robbery and will kill small businesses).

Now, as it clearly states on my business card, I am an advertising professional. As such, this topic should concern me greatly. However, based on my ability to breathe and subscribe to Netflix, I’m also a human being. This of course, gives me the right to live my life as annoyance free as possible (I’m looking at you Draft Kings).

So hell yes I use an adblocker. Very, very few advertisers have given me reason not to. Millions of other human beings feel the same way.

Here’s the rub: For an industry that prides itself on understanding consumers and giving them what they want, it is hugely ironic that we can’t take a giant sized hint that people are sick of being bombarded with terrible, irrelevant and invasive advertising.

Look no further than the industry wide average click-through rate of less than 1%. I'm pretty sure litter gets more attention.

The real shame in all of this is that the problem is of the ad industry’s own making. Huge promises of ROI and low cost of entry made the digital space a dumping ground for poorly thought out and poorly executed work. And lots of it.

The sad part is that consumers have always shown a willingness to embrace great work. They have consistently rewarded creativity with love and engagement and open wallets. Look no further than Old Spice, Honda, Virgin, ESPN and any number of movie studios.

So instead of devoting so much energy railing against the unfairness of tools consumers use to keep unwanted dreck out of their digital lives, why don’t agencies spend more time being thoughtful about when and where (and to whom) ads run and then creating work that’s worth people’s time to view.

After all, we created this mess. It’s only fair that we should clean it up.