Adblocking is finding a receptive audience down under. In a very serious wake up call for Australia’s traditional and digital media companies who still rely heavily on display, a global survey by Accenture has found that Australian consumers have some of the most intensely negative views towards digital advertising and its impact on video.

Called “The Connected Consumer Wants a New Deal”, the report argues that “Today’s web savvy consumers demand better viewing experiences. Viewing disruption caused by poor Internet connection fuels consumer frustration which, combined with consumers’ increasing desire for superior video experiences with fewer ad interruptions and access to premium content, increases the risk of customer churn and adblocking.

The problem is not the notion of advertising, but rather the very poor and intrusive executions that put the consumer’s experiences online behind the desire of many publishers for a quick buck.

Consumers in Australia find advertising interruptions more intrusive than the global average — 86 per cent said advertising interruptions are too frequent, versus 83 per cent globally. Meanwhile 76 per cent said that advertising interruptions do not match their personal interest, versus 74 per cent globally.

Global attitudes to digital advertising and ad blockers
Global attitudes to digital advertising and adblockers

Publishers might take solace from the finding that overall awareness of adblocking methods is slightly less prevalent among consumers in Australia (57 per cent) compared to the global average (62 per cent).

That would be a mistake though. It suggests more downside ahead now that adblocking has broken into general consumer consciousness around the world.

Signaling a serious and growing threat to the digital advertising industry, Accenture’s researchers says their survey reveals that most Australian consumers (57 per cent) are aware of several options for removing advertising such as adblockers. The survey of 1000 consumers in Australia also finds that more than three in ten (31 per cent) said they would pay to eliminate ad interruptions.

Adblockers automatically remove or alter advertising content such as videos, images, and text on a web page.

For users, the benefit is that their pages and video files load more quickly, they get to view more clean-looking web pages, bandwidth consumption is reduced, and their privacy is enhanced as tracking and profiling systems of video advertising delivery platforms are compromised.

Scott Dinsdale, Accenture’s Media & Entertainment Lead for Australia and New Zealand, told Which-50 “Part threat, part opportunity, proactively embraced ad blockers are creating yardsticks for the effectiveness of digital advertising and marketing campaigns in Australia and worldwide. They offer a lens of introspection and consideration as to whether a creative strategy and its targeting are on point.

Scott dinsdale

(Image: Scott Dinsdale)

He said the Australian results reinforce that agencies need to recognise that traditional models of intrusive advertising are fast becoming redundant — with good reason — and need to be responsive to changing consumer preferences.

It’s also no longer just about tailoring and personalising campaigns but importantly ensuring the right creative is being served to the consumer through the right channels. Digital advertising is a representation of the entire brand experience, and as clients begin to adopt new methodologies across automation, analytics, Cx and beyond, it is imperative for agencies to keep up.

Consumers are willing to pay for blockers because too many ads are poorly targeted, according to Dinsdale. Consumers resent being forced to watch ads with no relevance.  Worse still, poorly constructed experiences  increasingly intrude on precious screen-time according to the study, with the authors noting that “In fact, simple avoidance of content associated with heavy and repetitive irrelevant advertising will increase as consumer choice and awareness of choice increases.

Viewed through a proactive lens, understanding adblocking behaviour can serve as a telling yardstick for media companies and brands in gauging how successfully they are connecting with consumers and whether they’re delivering the right message, in the right format, through the right channel, to the right consumer,” added Dinsdale.

Those bloody millennials

The study’s authors reveal that young consumers are especially aware of adblockers compared with older age groups. “More than two thirds (69 per cent) of those aged 18 to 24, and a slightly lesser number (64 per cent) of those between 25 and 34, say they know about ad-interruption technologies.

Accenture’s advice for members of the digital advertising ecosystem is to invest in user experience and user interface transformation, production studios, and post-production support resources and facilities.

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