In 2017, spending on digital advertisement is set to eclipse television – 38.4 percent to 35.8 percent. Contrast this for a second with the 38% of internet users that blocked advertisements in Q4 2015, a substantial increase from the 27%, in Q1 2015 who used ad-blockers, according to a report from eMarketer.
The public has sounded off about intrusive digital advertisements, stating that in addition to being hindrances to their online content consumption, they worry about data-security and malware exposure. One commenter on a recent Washington Post article said, “If there is a time when ad blockers are not permitted, then I’m just giving up on reading anything online. Life’s too short for that much pain.”
Based on these figures, it seems likely that the convergence of these trends will lead to increasingly diminished returns on digital ad investments. Ad-blocking is certainly a short-term obstacle, but a shift in focus to other forms of content marketing can provide ample opportunities to recoup expenses on blocked advertising. As one door closes another opens. For marketers, this open door comes in the form of public relations.
Online media consumption is still growing at a high rate even as the ad-blocking phenomenon takes hold. It was reported last year that time spent with digital media in the U.S. has increased by an incredible 49% over the past two years, driven by a 90% increase in consumption on smart phones. Audiences are still committed to online media consumption, regardless of their distrust of paid advertising.
Smart marketers who realize that they aren’t getting the bang for their buck from their digital ad spend may find it by reaching their audiences with compelling, relevant, non-intrusive, earned media. Public relations also provides what paid advertising cannot, independent validation and visibility that often spreads to multiple outlets. It also is highly targeted, meaning credible, searchable content can result in a more engaged audience. Consumers who value authenticity in their corporate story-telling will find what they are looking for in the editorial content of online media, not the flashy banner ads.
In the age of ad-blockers, as consumer-tech closes the door on advertising, another is opening up in the form of public relations, proven to be more impactful.