Signal’s Prediction for Digital Marketing in 2016: With Ad Blocking as the New Normal, Better Targeting, Formats and Relevancy Become Essential

As 2016 digital marketing strategies begin to take shape, advertisers and publishers will focus not just on their goals, but on the challenges that they will face in meeting those goals. In Signal’s recently published report, “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2016 – What Marketers Need to Know Now,” our in-house panel of digital experts and thought leaders discuss the top emerging trends and technology that addresses them. This is the fifth in a series of eight blog posts about Signal’s predictions for the New Year.

If 2015 was the year that ad blocking got its foothold, 2016 will be the year that everybody’s doing it. Research from Adobe and PageFair found that ad blocking could cost publishers as much as $41.4 billion in 2016. Something has got to give.

From our vantage point, this is what will happen:

  • Publishers will seek to know more about their customers. In order to deliver more relevant advertising and a more personalized experience behind the registration wall, publishers will aim to better understand readers and their interests by merging cross-channel data and building richer user profiles.
  • Publishers will create new formats. Advertising is the business model for most digital publishers, but ad blocking has thrown a major wrench in it. Publishers will look to run ads in new forms that can’t be blocked as easily, such as native ads and mobile app ads, and may increasingly turn to paywalls, too.
  • Advertising will get better. Advertisers will realize changes must
 be made so customers aren’t as quick to block them. Ads in 2016 will need to be more appealing, which entails not just the creative, but the targeting and relevance as well, in order to create value. This opens the door to bigger picture needs, such as connecting their channels and resolving customer identity, for more optimized ad spend and less waste.
  • Advertisers will start to police themselves (a little). Because just a few annoying ads can spur readers to turn on an ad blocker, expect to see a push from the IAB for advertisers to adopt best practices to make ads faster-loading and more appealing. Publishers, too, will be increasingly sensitive about running ads that hurt the user experience.
  • Consumers have some decisions to make. Online content only seems free. Would readers rather see an ad or pay to read an article? Consumers may decide it’s worth it to turn off the ad blocker if it’s the only way to access desired content for free.

These are still early days in the ad blocking battle: the landscape and technology is changing quickly on all sides. Now is the time to take advantage of technology that helps advertisers offer more relevant advertising that is a natural part of the consumer’s online journey, not a disruption to it. Start by connecting your first-party data to build customer profiles and market to people, not cookies. Signal’s integrated technology solves first-party data collection, cross-channel identity resolution, data onboarding and activation – in one platform. Other point solutions simply aren’t built to collectively address these challenges, and cannot be customized to keep pace with consumers.

To read more of Signal’s 2016 digital marketing predictions and the action steps you can take to address ad blocking, download the report: “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2016 – What Marketers Need to Know Now.”

Originally published January 19, 2016

Kelly Davis

Kelly leads Signal’s Client Services team to meet the needs of its clients, and has shaped its reputation for exceptional client support.

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