Online advertising is the fuel that keeps the internet economy machine running. Certainly, it is one of the most important ways to connect customers and businesses nowadays. For many, a goose that lays golden eggs. It is a shame that some in the industry do not remember Aesop’s moral of the story.

Why treat the symptoms and not the cause?

Is there anything wrong in looking for more profits? Not at all! The question is which way is the right way to do so is. Before you continue, check out the video below. South Park describes the problem better than anybody else.

I agree somebody needs to pay for the content. Consumers accepted advertising, and in many cases, they developed a digital immune system that helped them ignore what was uninteresting. To overcome the indifference, some ads became flashy, deceiving, intrusive, auto-played (sometimes many at the same time!) In other words, we pushed ads to become impossible to ignore i.e. fighting the “customer digital immune system.” Therefore, ad-blockers became the natural reaction to an abused user experience. They are a symptom.
There are many ways to treat a disease. Exacerbating the problem doesn’t help i.e. leveraging technologies on the publisher side that can suppress ad blockers will lead to stronger ad-blockers, and we, the marketers, will continue trying to deliver a message to a customer in the middle of an engineers’ battlefield.

online ads - programmatic and ad-blockers


We, the marketers, carry a serious responsibility, as we are the beginning of the chain. I know how the “mere exposure effect” works; however, do you really expect a customer to empathize with your brand after they were invaded with the same video once a minute for the last hour? Does the picture below represent your ideal way to communicate?

Online ads and ad-blockers
At the end of the day, our ultimate objective is to find new customers, attract (not force) their attention, make them interested (not antagonized) and create a need that will lead to a purchase.
Advertising has two “I’s”. Look for your ad in any digital environment and choose the two “I” that describe it from the lists below.
List A: Intrusive – Irrelevant – Improper – Inconvenient – Incompatible – Ineffective – Invasive
List B: Iconic – Identifiable – Illustrative – Important – Impressive – Instructional – Inspiring – Interesting

The best way to cure a disease is to prevent it from the beginning

The digital advertising value chain is long and at times difficult to understand. It is a valuable and, in many cases indispensable, way to advertise a business. Its importance will continue to grow continuously.
It is not my intention in this post to propose ways to solve the pitfalls of the display ad ecosystem or the ad-blocking proliferation. This is a call to my fellow marketers that are trying every day to engage new and existing customers.
We are the beginning of the chain. The minimum we can do to foster a great relationship with the customer is to ask where and how our message is distributed and make sure our voice is delivered in ways that create long lasting bonds. If we are not doing at least that, we are part of the problem and cannot complain when the customer shuts us out (blocks our ads online.)

Follow-up Questions:

What can marketers do to improve the customer experience? How do you select your digital ads channels? What other I’s define your ads? Share your take!

This article was originally published in LinkedIn Pulse. Please leave your comments here or there.

Original B&W Photo credit to Ryan McGuire