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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Mar 3, 2020 10 min read

Global Ad Blocking Means You Should Double Down On Earned Attention

Earning Your Audience’s Attention And Then Keeping It Is Key

How To Earn Atention with MarketinbAs an article published in Ad Age last month reports, “Ad blocking on mobile had previously been written off as something only tech-savvy users deployed, but that’s no longer the case; new entrants in the browser arena are offering mobile ad blocking as a baked-in feature to lure consumers away from Google Chrome, according to a report released by PageFair and parent company Blockthrough.

The report, the first from PageFair in three years, says more than 527 million people globally are blocking ads on mobile, up 64% since 2016. Desktop, meanwhile, has fallen 16% to about 236 million for the same time period, the report says.

“In the U.S., where mobile represents nearly 70% of all digital ad spend, ad blocking is up from 1% in 2016 to 3% in 2019, says Marty Kratky-Katz, co-founder and CEO at Blockthrough.

“Users running blockers on mobile represent about 4% of all U.S. traffic, as they consume more media than people who don’t use ad blockers, says Katz. 

“Katz says that the number of U.S. users running ad blockers on mobile will double to about 6% by 2022. He adds that Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Brave and Safari are the most popular U.S. browsers offering ad-blocking features. Chrome does not offer browser extensions in mobile as it does for desktop, because it can’t, says Katz.” 

How do savvy marketers respond to the increase in ad-blocking technology? This is certainly not a trend that will regress. Rather, it’s one that will likely increase going forward.

Earn Your Prospects’ Attention

This has been a tenet of ours since 2003. Seth Godin introduced the idea in Permission Marketing back in 1999, and HubSpot turned it into software with its inbound marketing methodology in 2009.

You have two options:

Option 1: You can interrupt your prospects with paid advertising, unwanted emails and demand generation marketing tactics. You can hope to get in front of them enough times in enough places with the right message that you get their attention. Hopefully you have the budget to support this inefficient process. After all, you are spending money to market to people who may or may not have any interest in what you do, no matter how targeted your approach.

Option 2: You can try to earn the attention of people already looking for what you do. You can be visible when they search. You can create content for all stages of the buyer journey and then respectfully nurture those people throughout their journey until they are ready to buy. You can create a remarkable digital experience that draws them into your world, helps educate them and gets them to feel safe with your brand, products/services and company. It might take a bit longer, but it’s much more efficient.

This second option isn’t impacted by ad blocking on mobile, ad blocking on browsers, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Law) or CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act).

While this might seem like a nonissue based on the numbers above, the trend is moving in the direction that will make marketing to people much more challenging going forward. As a progressive and proactive marketer, here are some ways to get ahead of it.

Create A More Remarkable Online Experience

Consumers are being trained to expect amazing online experiences. Think about your own online experiences. Who doesn’t love Netflix? Why? Because Netflix easily gives you access to great video content. Because Netflix knows you and serve up new shows you are likely to love based on your viewing habits.

Who doesn’t love Amazon? Why? Because Amazon makes it easy and even enjoyable to quickly find almost anything, buy it with a swipe, pay for it and have it show up the next day. You have to admit, it’s remarkable.

The list of companies offering amazing experiences is getting longer and longer Trunk Club, Warby Parker, Mint, Dollar Shave Club, Airstream, MINI Cooper and more. I even processed my entire auto insurance claim with State Farm on my phone. All aspects were easy, fast and customer friendly.

Now all businesses are going to have to start thinking like this and working to deliver similar experiences, B2B included. The sooner you start looking at the entire customer experience, from first click to close and through delivery, the easier it will be for your company to create an experience that gets people talking about your business.

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Ask For Permission Early And Often

All of the best experiences we illustrated above are those that we’ve opted into. We have a Netflix subscription and an Amazon account (maybe even Prime), and we’ve purchased products from Dollar Shave Club or Warby Parker.

If we’re not customers yet, we’re fans of those businesses and have given them approval to market to us. We’ve visited their websites, and we’ve signed up to get alerts, coupons, emails or information that we’ve decided we’re interested in.

For example, I’m vegan, and I am always looking for new vegan recipes. I subscribe to several companies that send recipes, meals, options for ingredient substitution and other healthy-eating-related information. I searched for them, I found them and I subscribed. As long as the information is helpful, I’m happy with my experience.

I am happy to get those recipes and excited to read them. I even share a few with other people like me. I’ve given the companies that send them permission and welcome them into my world.

But if they had started sending these to me without my permission, my reaction might have been different.

Understand Your Prospects’ Buyer Journeys Better

It’s easy to get distracted from this approach. Many of us are regularly emailed without our permission, so it appears to be OK. Many of us get emails asking if we’d like to purchase names of people who are interested in what we do, and that makes it feel like an option.

Today we are even introduced to the idea of intent data, the names of people who appear to be signaling that they might need what we do based on their web behavior. Again, many people are fascinated with the idea, because it does appear on the surface to make it easier.

I could get a list of 1,000 people who visited my top three competitors’ websites? That sounds great. They might have an interest in what I do and not be aware of my company. Yes, I want those names.

But does it make sense to buy those names? There is no contextual relevance to where they are in the buyer journeys. They might have a real interest, or they might simply be doing research for a project. They might just be looking to compare one website to another. There are content-based searches, and there are real intent-based searches. You won’t know which kind of search they’re doing.

While I’m not judging anyone, in many cases, demand generation, outbound marketing and inbound marketing are the right approaches if the mix is right.

But in all cases, understanding your prospects’ buyer journeys is the best place to start. Once you have intimate details associated with how your prospects buy, when they buy, what triggers their initial interest, what questions they have at different stage of their buyer journeys, what pains cause them to move to sales ready and who is part of the buying process, most of your marketing and sales questions around tactics get answered quickly and easily.

Having this understanding also allows you to craft a buyer journey experience that serves up the right content and the right messages at the right time, so it never feels like you’re interrupting them or marketing to them without their permission.

To the contrary, do this correctly (like my vegan examples above) and you’ll have their permission, which opens the door to using almost all of the tactics available to you.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.