Ad blocking has grown by 41% in the last twelve months. There are now 198 million adblock users worldwide, costing content publishers an estimated $22 billion in 2015 alone.
It makes sense. Why would anyone want irrelevant commercials thrown at them if they can simply download something which wipes them out? The truth is that many of us don’t hate advertising per se, we just don’t want slow-loading, battery-draining and often completely irrelevant adverts to ruin our browsing experience.
A poll conducted by Dean Murphy, the creator of popular app Crystal, found that over half of its respondents would allow adverts to run on their favorite sites if they adhered to stringent performance and privacy guidelines. Most research suggests that people are still uncomfortable with the current state of the industry, but what if it made the leap to ‘ultra’ personal ads? Jay Duggal - Head of Product for Online Audience Measurement at Quantcast - believes that if ads were even more targeted, everyone would be happy.
This seems illogical. If we’re uncomfortable with personalized ads - and the data-collection needed to generate them - surely a deeper look into our browsing history would be even more distressing? However, Duggal believes that ultra-personalized adverts would be useful for users, making them less inclined to block them. He also states: ‘we will have to show fewer ads, advertisers will be willing to spend more for each ad. And the revenue for publishers and data providers like us will go up.’
As mentioned in Fast Company, his positive outlook isn’t surprising. Backed by its new Quantcast Grid - a system which collects more data than anything seen previously - his company is looking to sell these adverts to some of the world’s most prominent publishers. There is still, however, real skepticism surrounding the issue. In a survey in 2014, close to 80% of participants felt uneasy with the access third parties have to their data - believing that more regulation is needed.
Quantcast’s response is that the data they’re collecting isn’t ‘personally identifiable’. The company has even stated that privacy and ‘preserving anonymity’ is one of its company values. That, unfortunately, is unlikely to convince many. The perception of privacy needs to change before personalized adverts, in any capacity, are accepted by the masses as a useful tool. One good thing is that these personalized ad providers are staying clear of medical issues - with Fast Company calling them ‘both annoying and creepy.’
It’s hard to see Quantcast convincing the majority to ditch their adblocker in favor of hypertargeted ads. The company, however, remains optimistic. The online advertising industry has alienated many, but the promise of high-performance, relevant adverts, might, in time, be its saving grace.