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5 Ways to Rise Above Ad Blocking

Of the many challenges digital marketers face today, one of the most threatening is ad blocking. According to a 2016 Business Insider Intelligence report, U.S. ad revenue losses from ad blocking could reach more than $9.7 billion this year.

Ad blocking involves using software to remove advertising from a web page. That software — usually in the form of a browser extension like AdBlock Plus or Ghostery — is readily available to consumers and very easy to install. And it has continued to gain popularity, especially after Apple's announcement that it would offer such capabilities across both the iPhone and iPad in iOS 9.

This trend is affecting digital marketing on desktops, mobile devices, tablets and even connected TVs. So what can you do about it?

As a digitally driven advertising agency, we help our clients drive results despite ad blocking. Here are some ways we do it:

  1. 1. Share quality branded content with your audience.

    Once you find and reach the people who would be most interested in your product or service, give them some useful content that is 100% owned by your brand. That could include videos, quizzes, interactive games, infographics, reports or any other content perceived as valuable by your audience. As long as the content isn't distributed through a digital ad server, it can't be blocked. But more importantly, relevant branded content will make people like your brand and actually want to learn more.

  2. 2. Consider opt-in programs.

    Encourage people who are genuinely interested to sign up for emails, text messages or any other form of direct communication they would welcome from your brand. Ad blockers can't infiltrate these media, and the act of opting in suggests that your recipients wouldn't want to block those messages anyway.

  3. 3. Be discerning with your media selections.

    Some media publishers are allowing only limited access to their content for users who have ad blockers installed. Some are withholding their content altogether unless the user pays for it. Others are trying to educate their visitors about how ad blocking limits their ability to provide free content — and these are the placements where advertisers may have the most luck.

    Consider prioritizing publishers who educate their users. Then you can at least hope to reach them by convincing them to turn ad blockers off.

  4. 4. Put more focus on search.

    Search engine marketing (spanning paid and organic efforts) is essential for reaching highly qualified users. Not only can your presence not be blocked in this context; it's almost always welcome. You can be confident about that because you're reaching people who are actively seeking information about your brand or product category.

  5. 5. Leverage non-digital media touchpoints.

    Think about building your brand message where it can't be blocked (out-of-home, broadcast, print, in-store materials, sales interactions, product packaging, trade shows, etc.). Through hfa's Connections Planning approach, we consider every point of contact a consumer has with a brand across paid, owned and earned media. This ensures we explore non-digital (un-blockable) as well as digital touchpoints.

    Of course, consumers can still have the same aversion to offline ads that they do to online ads. This is why it's vital to keep in mind the user experience and make sure your ads — wherever they appear — are as targeted and relevant as possible.

Ad blocking doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. This is a part of the continued evolution of the digital media landscape, and digital marketers will be forced to evolve with it.

To stay ahead of this challenge, it's important to be innovative with how you're connecting to your audience. Even more importantly, never stop gathering and using deep insights. These will tell you where to reach your audience, what you need to say and how to say it for the greatest impact.

Therein lies the cure to ad blocking: Ads so relevant and compelling, your audience wouldn't want to block them even if they could.