Brand safety and the unblocked web

“Brand safety and the unblocked web” presents the findings of a research collaboration between the UK advertisers body ISBA, the Advertising Research Foundation, and PageFair. It shows how adblock users actually react when shown ads that adblock tools cannot tamper with. It also shows how this “unblocked” audience of adblock users responds to brands shown in those ads.
Over 2,300 study participants were shown LEAN display format ads on several premium websites. These ads adhere to the Coalition For Better Ads initial standard, and address adblock users’ legitimate UX, bandwidth, and security grievances.
ISBA, the ARF, and PageFair found that the unblocked audience is brand safe. Indeed, adblock users react more favorably to advertised brands than regular users in some cases.
“The study should provide some confidence for those advertisers who wish to take a firmer stance against ad-blocking that, so long as they abide by CBA standards, they can engage respectfully with these customers without fear of brand damage” – Mark Finney, Director of Media & Advertising at ISBA – the UK advertisers’ representative body.

Download Brand Safety and the Unblocked Web report PDF
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Summary of findings

  • Both adblock users and regular (non-adblock) users have almost identical levels of satisfaction when viewing a mainstream webpage that includes standard display ads.
  • Adblock users are more bothered by ads on webpages than regular users. However, this does not translate into a negative attitude toward the advertised brand.
  • Both adblock users and regular users that are bothered at being shown an ad blame the advertised brand less than any other party.
  • Even when bothered by seeing an ad, adblock users blame the advertised brand less than regular users.
  • Even when bothered by seeing an ad, both adblock users and regular users have almost identical levels of positivity toward the advertised brand. (And when considering all respondents irrespective of their level of bother at being shown an ad, adblock users blame the brand slightly less than regular users.)

The study tested reactions to IAB “LEAN” display format ads. This LEAN format adheres to the Coalition For Better Ads “initial standard”, and addresses adblock users’ legitimate grievances concerning UX, bandwidth, and security.

“We’ve known the ‘what’ of ad-blocking for a while, and now we’re building our body of knowledge on the ‘why’ and ‘what now’ of the topic. This study adds to our insight, and helps us figure out how to serve the consumer better” – Chris Bacon, Executive Vice President for Global Research, Quality & Innovation at the Advertising Research Foundation.

Facebook has attributed approximately 20% of additional y-o-y revenue growth to its decision to use unblockable ads in August 2016. Facebook will make approximately three quarters of a billion dollars in additional revenue as a result.

“These findings are good news for marketers and for publishers. Global adblock usage has climbed past 615 million devices worldwide. Unblocking this audience with tamper-proof ads builds a new, uncluttered environment for brand safe marketing” – Sean Blanchfield, CEO of PageFair.

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