“The ubiquity of ad blocking across advertising mediums makes advocate marketing increasingly relevant as an effective, unblockable alternative.” – Galen Sanford, Crowdly’s Director of Technology
Online ad buying is sinking, and marketers need a new ship. Ad blocking – programmatically hiding ads in web browsers and mobile apps – is increasingly effective and popular, having made the leap from early-adopter to mainstream: almost 200m users worldwide now block ads (up over 40% from August 2014), including 41% of U.S. Millennials. It’s costing advertisers an estimated $22 billion in 2015, a number predicted to double in 2016.
But wait, it gets worse:
- Even as leading ad-blocking companies like Adblock Plus negotiate whitelisted “Acceptable” ads with advertising companies, other ad blockers are stepping in to provide 100% ad-free online experiences.
- Just as few viewers watch TV ads anymore thanks to TiVo-style ad skipping, technology exists to block pre-, post-, and mid-roll video ads on sites like YouTube and Hulu (Hulu also offers a commercial-free version for a few dollars more per month).
- Apple’s iOS 9 and Google’s Android – together accounting for 96% of all smartphones – enable the installation of third-party ad blockers: there goes the mobile-ad market.
- Click fraud – when an ad is viewed/clicked by a non-human, or invisibly “displayed” to a human (think pop-unders) – is rampant: a recent Bloomberg expose reported major campaigns where 80-98% of impressions were bots.
We draw two conclusions: 1) the web needs a new business model, and 2) marketers need a new tactic. Thankfully for marketers, an unblockable tactic exists already – and has existed as long as people have exchanged knowledge: word-of-mouth marketing. It goes by a few names, like advocate or influencer marketing, and for the first time in history, it scales. Based on our real-world experience, embracing your own advocates is substantially more effective and cheaper than buying ads: as in, immediately more effective, even before accounting for post-campaign residual, at costs nearing an order of magnitude less expensive.
With 81% of U.S. consumers influenced by friend’s social media posts, all other advertising suggestions seem invasive. Blasting people with ads is a tactic from a bygone era. Word of mouth marketing is now, and the future, which is why I’m excited about the work we’re doing at Crowdly. Word-of-mouth marketing has long been the most effective form of advertising, but it’s always been untamed. We’re the only solution making it accessible and scalable for brands, with instant access to their own advocates and turnkey ways to activate them. If you’re a brand spending too much on unseen ad buys, talk to us now. We make it dead simple to sail far on this changing tide.