Survey finds 90% of APAC web users would consider using ad blockers, ad tech firm suggests ‘polite advertising’ is the solution

Ad blockerA survey by ad tech firm Unruly has found that nine in 10 internet users in Asia Pacific would consider using ad blockers, although Southeast Asia stands out globally as the most forgiving region for one of the most interruptive forms of internet advertising, video pre-roll.

While two thirds of Australian respondents said they were put off a brand when obliged to watch a pre-roll ad, well under half (45%) of Southeast Asians felt the same way.

But Southeast Asian internet users are averse to retargeting, with 67% saying that they find ads that follow them around the internet creepy; the global average is 63%.

And Southeast Asia has a higher aversion than anywhere to internet ads they think feel fake, according to the study. Fully 86% of Southeast Asian web users say they would lose trust in a brand if they felt an an ad lacked authenticity, compared to 77% of Australians who would feel that way.

Three-quarters of those asked (77%) said they mute the sound of video ads, adding weight to the thinking that video creative should work just as well without sound.

Unruly has partnered with media agency Mindshare to develop a manifesto for digital advertising to mitigate the threat of ad blocking technology, which is predicted to curb $41bn in internet advertising spend this year globally.

The manifesto sets out pillars to help brands understand why ad blocking is on the rise and what they can do to be part of the solution rather than the problem, which Unruly APAC boss Phil Townend has pegged as “polite advertising”.

He commented on the results of the survey, which found that 90% of APAC internet users are using or would consider using ad blocking software because they feel there are too many ads and they find them creepy: “The industry has largely adopted an interruptive video model, which is a hangover from TV, and consumers are being bombarded with hard sell sales messages which deliver little emotional value.”

“You could argue we’re hurtling towards an ‘ad-pocalypse’, where there’s a real risk that consumers will abandon advertising if brands don’t listen to the signals and adopt more engaging, non-invasive ad strategies for the long term,” he said.

“We launched the APAC Future Video Manifesto to help brands in the region rebuild trust, re-connect with consumers and re-set the ad economy so we can collectively survive the existential threats that face the ad industry in the 21st Century and realise the full potential of video as a medium.”

“Consumers are fed up with ad clutter – too many anti-social, interruptive ads. The solution is polite advertising: polite-page loading, respectful ad formats that give a better user experience, and better ads in the first place – content that’s worth watching,” Townend said.

The manifesto proposes that ‘less is more’, and brands should run fewer – and higher quality – ads per page and fewer ad tags per placement, which will means less clutter and faster page loading for readers.

It also suggests giving control of the ad to the viewer, so that they can minimise, pause, mute or close the ad if they want to.

Publishers should let the user see the content first before serving an ad, which Unruly refers to as “polite placements” that are less likely to annoy the user.

The manifesto also proposes better targeting using frequency capping, emotional ad targeting, and sequential targeting “to tell better stories”.

Testing and learning the right creative approach and adopting a mobile-first strategy are also features of the Manifesto.

Mindshare APAC’s chief digital officer, Sanchit Sanga, said that the sharp rise of online video viewing in the region has created “the single largest opportunity and threat for marketers.”

“Consumer-centric companies will recreate their content pipes and storytelling techniques at the core to address these fleeting, restless and picky audiences,” he said.

“Relevant, targeted, native and contextual video which doesn’t disrupt viewing patterns will be the mainstay for successful video delivery. Conversely, dumping and spraying 30-second commercials across the web, solely looking at old world metrics alone like eGRPs, will spell doomsday for brands of today and tomorrow.”

The prevalence of ad blocking software in Asia is believed to be relatively low given that the region – with the exception of markets such as Australia – has a low iPhone penetration compared to Samsung and other smartphone brands, which are yet to introduce their own ad blocking software.


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