Once an unavoidable drag on revenues, Facebook’s ingenious solution to adblocking has lessons for content marketers
Despite some interesting innovations, the industry consensus is that it’s been a volatile year for advertisers. And predictions suggest more volatility is to come. Mobile ad revenues should climb but desktop revenues look stagnant, while Google’s plans to add an adblocker to Chrome could drain further power from publishers.
Anyone depending on ads for revenue must adapt. Google has flexed its muscles to stay ahead of the trend – but it’s another web behemoth, Facebook, to whom publishers seeking salvation should turn.
Blocking the blockers
Towards the end of 2016, Facebook declared war on adblockers. With some tamper-proof ad serving formulas in hand, Facebook resurrected a revenue stream that adblockers looked set to kill off. The latter have been battling (with only intermittent success) to return to the ad-free glory days ever since.
Facebook’s earnings from the initiative have been astounding, particularly as they have all been generated on desktop where adblockers are most common and revenues are ailing. At the current rate, funnelling ads to adblock users could net Facebook a total of over $1 billion by the start of 2018.
In the space of a year, Facebook went from adblock-induced handwringing to a handy solution worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And all it took was a few developmental tweaks.
Facebook is a digital titan. Can publishers with specific focuses and smaller audiences replicate its success?
There are, inevitably, some hefty caveats. The first is that simply circumventing adblockers to bombard customers with horrible ads is a surefire path to decaying traffic. The fact of the matter is that most web users find ads annoying and disruptive. That’s why adblockers became so huge in the first place.
Publishers can solve this by channelling the right ads to the right people – clearly an undertaking more feasible for a leviathan like Facebook. With huge banks of user data available, social media giants are well placed to provide ads that are both profitable to the business and relevant to users. Smaller organisations just don’t have the resources to use this information in the same way, or collect it to begin with.
Where B2B wins out
Except B2B businesses are in a more favourable position. By knowing a great deal about the audiences they are catering for already, providing relevant ads becomes a great deal easier. Content Desk has previously unpacked the advantages of closed audiences and they yield reliably higher engagement rates than their larger counterparts. In the world of advertising, that can mean higher revenues.
It all comes down to relevance, and B2B content marketers know they are already producing articles, videos and infographics for a highly tailored audience. Supplementing this with highly tailored ads follows as an easy win.
Facebook’s example shows that if you know your audience and are sufficiently savvy to avoid pushing your luck, a bit of coding creativity to skirt round adblockers can go a long way. The numerical difference between Facebook’s billions of users versus the mere hundreds for some B2B publications is stark – but both can leverage knowledge of their userbase to fuel booming bottom lines.
Maybe the ad industry is in for a volatile year, but B2B content marketers are well placed to ride the wave. If you’ve got the data, follow Facebook’s example and take the adblockers on – your audience will thank you and your profits could soar.