The Future of Advertising: 9 Things Marketers Should Expect to See in a World of Ad Blockers

In the early days of the internet, a business could make a lot of money by selling ads to a new and willing market. Marketers flocked online to experience this new targeted form of outreach. However, with time, ads became obnoxious, prompting many users to start installing add-ons to their browsers to block ads. Today's ad blockers are so effective that they can even stop advertising on social media. Some browsers even come with those ad blockers built-in, making it more difficult for advertisers to get a message to their audience.

If advertising wants to succeed in the future, however, the industry needs to figure out how to work around (or even with) these blockers to deliver their content. These nine entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective have intimate knowledge of the online advertising industry. We consulted them on their thoughts about how ad blockers are likely to change the future of advertising and how companies should adjust to this new reality. Here are their views on what they expect to see in the coming years.

1. A bigger focus on consumer utility

It’s all about consumer utility. Brands can look to incorporate a variety of different channels to reach their consumer, and use these paths to give them something of value. When you deliver value in a personalized way, your customer learns to trust that your message and the effort to get it to them ultimately has their best interests in mind. - Oz Etzioni, Clinch

2. A continued push toward voice and endorsed ads

I see a continued push toward voice and endorsed ads across audio platforms, especially podcasts. Podcasts are an opt-in medium, and studies have proven that listeners actually prefer to have ads versus not having them. It is also incredibly effective at driving conversions, reaching incremental audiences and elevating brands. - Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media

3. Increased personalization based on buyer intent data

The reason people block online advertisements is that they’re so often served totally irrelevant ads. It’s on companies to do the legwork and learn what actually interests their potential buyers, and serve up ad content that meets those expectations. Marketers can harness buyer intent data to personalize ads based on a prospect’s interests and stage in the buyer journey. - Latane Conant, 6sense

4. Direct integration of products into content

To effectively reach ad-averse audiences, brands must integrate products directly into influencer, film, television and streaming content. With more content produced every day, marketers must use AI to filter and identify the most effective partnerships. This combination of human expertise and technology will inspire authentic ad campaigns that will reach engaged audiences and guarantee maximum ROI. - Ricky Ray Butler, Branded Entertainment Network

5. Increased focus on creative content without disruption

Advertisers must be aware of consumer behavior changes and adapt their communication style. The biggest consumer needs are content and no disruption. Using tech solutions to navigate around "blocking" may not lead to connections that lead to relationships. Instead, advertisers must be smart about bringing additional creative and relevant content without disruption. - Arjun Sen, ZenMango

6. Always-on compliance management and honor-based ads

The question should be what will the new era of consumer consent-based advertising look like? With GDPR and CCPA compelling advertisers to get with the game more quickly, the future is about always-on compliance management and honor-based advertising. Tools like SafeGuard Privacy, Brave Software and NYIAX are solutions to consider as advertisers consider how to drive a better ad future. - Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

7. A continued rise of content and influencer marketing

Content marketing and influencer marketing will continue to rise. By producing content that people need and for which they are searching, your content becomes the ad. With influencers, people are actively seeking their opinions, so the content they produce also becomes the ad. The ad blockers can't block content. - Dan BeltramoOnclusive (formerly AirPR)

8. More focus on contextual advertising

There are already steps being taken to create effective and relevant ads without relying on user behavioral data. Contextual intelligence tools are being developed to show ads on a page based on the context and content of the page. In this way, businesses will still show relevant ads that lead to conversions but without infringing on a user's personal information. - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

9. Advertisers and publishers working closer together

Advertising remains a critical part of funding publishing, so the game of cat and mouse will go on. Advertisers and publishers will work together to find ways to improve relevance to their respective audiences through content, value-add, improved targeting, permissions and more. There are many tools in the arsenal to reach consumers because the incentive to do so will always remain. - Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

About the Author

Latané Conant

Latané Conant is the Chief Market Officer of 6sense and author of the bestselling book, No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls. She’s passionate about empowering marketing leaders to confidently lead their teams, company, and industry into the future. Latané is laser-focused on leveraging technology and data to build marketing programs that result in deals, not just leads. She’s known across the industry for her creativity, competitiveness, and boundless energy.

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