look beyond digital advertising

100 million using ad-blockers by 2020

This is the seventeenth of 20 daily ‘thoughts’ examining the trends in marketing in 2018 and beyond.I have long maintained that advertising as we know it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. There is mounting evidence to suggest that we are moving out of the ‘advertising era’ of marketing and into a more ‘cognitive era’ of marketing.

Evidence for this includes:

  • The death of traditional media (newspaper advertising is declining by 17%/ annum)
  • The massive growth in the use of subscription services (e.g. Netflix and YouTube)
  • The massive increase in the use of Adblockers (100 million Americans by 2020)

Traditional media is in its death throes. Advertising expenditure in most traditional media is in decline. The major exception seems to be billboards, and radio is relatively static. All other traditional media are attracting fewer and fewer users and, therefore, fewer advertising dollars.

The saviour for advertising agencies was going to be digital media. However, even digital advertising has its issues. To avoid the intrusion of advertising, more and more consumers are signing up to subscription services such as Netflix and the advertisement free YouTube subscription service.

To further avoid the intrusion of advertising, more and more consumers are using ad-blockers. It is estimated that 87 million Americans now use ad-blockers. This number is expected to rise to 100 million by 2020 – in just two years. This trend will flow across the world.

It is estimated that, in the United States alone, over the past 12 months some $12 billion in display advertising expenditure has been wasted – largely due to ad-blockers.

Strategies being implemented to get around problems associated with the use of ad-blockers, include:

  • Product placement
  • Native advertising
  • Educational content

Product placement is becoming a massive factor in the movie industry. Just ask the likes of Apple. How many times have you seen an Apple logo in a movie? Product placement is also becoming more common in television programmes and content produced by the likes of Netflix and Amazon for their own platforms.

Native advertising, or content carrying more subtle advertising content placed in media as informative content generally gets around ad-blockers. Ad-blockers tend to consider such content to be legitimate journalism (perhaps demonstrating how low journalism has sunk). Native content is becoming more common and more potent.

Educational content, perhaps in the form of documentaries, is also growing in popularity for platforms like Netflix and Amazon hungry for content that their audiences will engage with. Such documentaries can directly address issues relevant to a brand and indirectly promote that brand.
Content can also be seen as more credible by readers.


Consider carefully the role of advertising in your marketing mix, especially in the longer term. Its effectiveness will decline.

In terms of communication, more and more attention should be given to product placement, native advertising, and educational content. In addition to getting around ad-blockers, these avenues can be more credible, more informative, and much richer in information.

Look closely at product placement, native advertising, and educational content.


Smart Insights, The Drum, Social Media Week, CSR matters, Louder Milk, Forbes, Quicksprout, Wider Funnel, Trends and Insights, Core DNA, Digital Current

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