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Is Ad Blocking Killing The Video Star Too?

We’ve been hearing about it for a while now within the digital marketing sphere: video is the way to go in terms of consumer engagement. It is true that video is proving to be a very effective means to attract and engage with a target market and to drive them down the conversion path, but its popularity within digital marketing departments and digital agencies means that there is a danger of this medium being overused. The consequence? We are already seeing the backlash previously faced by paid for advertising in the form of that familiar nemesis – ad blocking.


The scourge of advertisers everywhere, ad blocking has necessitated a shift in approach by marketers to focus not just on pasting paid for content all over the internet, but to offer valuable and relevant information consumers will actually want to read. That is beginning to apply to what consumers will actually want to watch, too.

There’s no doubt that digital marketing folk have bought into video marketing wholesale, and with good reason. It’s one of the main content types driving engagement on websites. According to research by Cisco, 69% of all global consumer internet traffic will be video by the end of this year (80% by 2019). Nielsen claim that  64% of marketers expect video marketing to be the major player in their online marketing strategies, with more than half seeing it as the best format for increased ROI.

Why? Because as Forrester sum it up quite well, saying that  ‘a minute of video is worth 1.8million words. Videos stick. Consumers remember viewing them, and are influenced by what they see, they can be shared easily, and they provide more entertainment and visual stimulus than the written word. We are, it would seem, still storytellers at heart, and video is the perfect medium for boosting website traffic and online marketing objectives.

However, the proliferation of video as a marketing tool, whether on a website, blog or social media, has led to many jumping on the bandwagon without giving much thought to what content they are producing, and as in most cases, just a small percentage of bad, unplanned video content can ruin it for everyone, as a mondaynote.com blog details.

Block Party

That’s where ad blocking comes in. Consumers no longer want to watch irrelevant video content any more than they want to see irrelevant ads or content that doesn’t help them with their challenges or pain points. They want to be informed, entertained, to become part of a story and engage with it. Just as so many have done with those pop-ups, scroll ads or sidebar pieces of content, consumers are beginning to block video.


According to a martechtoday.com blog, video ads are now getting hit not only with the same ad blocking vigour, but are actually being hit extra hard. If the video ad just appears without context, it, as Gandalf says, shall not pass. With a third of online consumers using ad block software (increasing by a quarter every year), brands and marketing agencies have tried to tackle the problem through whitelists or stubborn refusal to play by other rules, adopting detection to ban users.

Ad blocking software doesn’t specifically pick out video ads, it simply includes them under the same banner of ‘unwanted’ ads, but there are other challenges video ads face, from an intrusion point of view. It’s also important to note that while there is a rise in video ad blocking, this is pretty much in line with the rise in ad blocking in general, and the rise in the amount of video content out there. The more videos there are, the more there are that will be blocked.

Anybody who has ever been on the bus and had a particularly annoying autoplay ad with sound appear on their device can attest to the problem first-hand. Similarly, ads that can’t be skipped until a certain amount of time has passed is no friend to anybody, not the consumer, and certainly not the marketer who will meet not with customer engagement, but with frustration and a solemn vow never to use that site again.


So, what can marketers and advertisers do to overcome this challenge? Well, as with written content, the answer lies in providing the type of content people want to see, becoming, as HubSpot preach, inbound (interesting, relevant and compelling) rather than outbound (intrusive, demanding and irrelevant). It also requires tailoring content for the market – for example, with 62% of all ad blocking software being on mobile according to BusinessInsider.com, it’s worth looking at ways to counter this or change tack to become more accessible and user-friendly on the trusty hand-held device.

Here’s some of the main ways to get around the video ad block challenge:

Start producing good videos that work

Yes, it sounds obvious, but if everyone was doing it there wouldn’t be a problem. Just as online consumers want to block ads that have no relevance and simply interrupt their getting to the written content they want to see, so it is with video.

Online consumers don’t want to see full-length ads on their mobile, they want shortened, relevant messages that get to the point. And as for waiting for it to load, well… it’s essential that there is no delay, and the message is there and ready to watch if the consumer wishes to do so.

Go native

Research by Teads has shown that native video formats are deemed less intrusive by consumers, with 48% of respondents to a survey saying pre-roll ads are twice as annoying as native. That means that you are far more likely to have your video ad viewed if it has something to do with where it is and what brought the consumer to it, rather than being a standard ad all users have to watch in order to get to the good stuff.


For instance, if I’m looking up great hikes to take around Ireland, I might not mind seeing a video ad for a hiking boots sale, but trying to shoehorn in an ad about high heels (pardon the pun), won’t be met with the same appreciation.

Native ads also have the benefit, usually, of a non-intrusive set-up, often displayed outside of the content a user is looking at, with the sound off by default and only played when the user wishes it to play.

If your brand, product or service doesn’t fit the content the consumer is viewing, either don’t insert the ad, or get creative.

Getting creative

According to a CNBC article, research by Kantar Millward Brown showed the immense challenge faced by advertisers and marketers in reaching the Generation Z – those New Kids On The Block - tech-savvy 16 to 19-year-olds who physically avoid ads like they were chores or homework, 69% of whom use ad blockers.

The report recommends using humour in video content, and making the messages ten seconds or less, so if you can’t appeal with your message in that time, you’ve lost that particular audience.

Skip to it

Always, always, always, allow for your video ads to be skippable. If you don’t, you are essentially trying to force your message down peoples’ throats rather than drawing them in, and that simply doesn’t work anymore. It is in fact one of the main reasons why ad blocking has become so popular in the first place.

Not only will consumers not sit through your video ad (why would they?) but they will also leave the site in question, never return, and ensure you can never submit them to the same experience again. You are dead to them.


Missing the trick

There may be a lot of technical tips and tricks to circumnavigate ad blocking software, including the type of coding most businesses don’t have the expertise in, but sooner or later these will be found out and dealt with by an online community-led band of blockers. Even if such methods were successful, they go against the grain of what your marketing efforts should be doing. To be truly effective, you need to be offering the right content to the right people at the right time, not trying to find ways to trick the internet into delivering your message, regardless of relevance.

There’s that word again: relevance. It’s the one surefire way to avoid having your video ads, and any other content, blocked or indeed ignored. Make it interesting, make it fit within the context of what the user is looking at, make it user-friendly and an enhancement of the user experience, and there will be no need, or desire, to block it.

Of course, video content is just one way to attract, generate engage with and convert leads within an effective inbound marketing strategy, and Get Focused, the only platinum-rated HubSpot partner in Ireland, can advise you on the best practices that will help you increase your ROI. Discover how we can help you reach your digital marketing goals by booking a call with us.



Adam Hyland - Chief Editor

Adam Hyland - Chief Editor

Adam is the most vital link between your message and your audience, ensuring your tone is on brand and optimised for engagement.

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