Can influencer marketing help marketers combat ad blockers?

Digital advertising has never been such a big business: Today, annual U.S. digital advertising revenue exceeds $50 billion and is broadly projected in the US to surpass total television revenue in the next year or so, making digital the largest segment in the ad industry.

Yet even as the industry crosses this historic milestone, there are signs of a potentially life-threatening issue that needs to be resolved to keep digital on its continued upward trajectory.

 

It’s hard to target someone who is no longer there to see your ads.

Ad blocking, which has been around in one form or another since the late 1990s, has never seen such widespread uptake as it has in the past year.  According to PageFair and Adobe’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report, the use of mobile and desktop ad blocking software grew by 41% worldwide and by 48% in the U.S. between 2014 and 2015; as of 2015, 45 million Americans were using ad blockers.

Recent industry response to ad blocking has been nothing short of hysterical, with a heavy focus on blaming the companies who provide ad-blocking services, the consumers who use them, or both.

Sure, there are all types of ad blocking companies with all types of agendas, but 45 million people in this country  (that’s roughly one in seven people) have raised their hands and said, “I would prefer not to see digital ads.”

If we were truly delivering the right ad to the right person, do you think one in seven of them would block it? Of course not. The simple truth is that we are not as good at this digital advertising thing as we thought -- and our ads and targeting aren’t quite as awesome as we would like to believe. The reality is that we need to get better at engaging consumers with digital marketing or even more of them will be tuning out.

 

Since digital advertising isn’t going away, what are marketers to do?

This dilemma should – and will – drive a renewed focus on how marketers engage consumers online.  Native content is a great example of how publishers are using deeper content integration to create more relevant experiences for consumers. However, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg because the big idea here isn’t actually about digital ads;  it’s about sharing the power of digital with the people – pulling them into the process to make the content they see more relevant, engaging, shareable and actionable.

Influencer Marketing - marketing that identifies and targets individuals with the power to influence purchase, empowering them to create and share brand messages - offers advertisers several ways to help digital advertising out of its doldrums.

First and foremost is that when Influencer Marketing (typically classified as earned), works in conjunction with paid advertising, it amplifies the impact by as much as 15%, causing concurrent improvements in key brand metrics like product knowledge, favorability and likelihood to recommend, according to WOMMA’s 2015 study on The Return on Word of Mouth.  Impressive results.  Why? Because smart marketers know that their best paid media triggers conversation and advocacy.

Influencer marketing comes in many forms and a growing body of research suggests that when you give influencers a meaningful product experience, their resulting advocacy is all the more powerful. Research from The Keller Fay Group confirms that earned media conversations driven by personal product experience increases likelihood to purchase by over 20 points - and it’s clear that in many cases influencer marketing is more effective than today’s digital tactics for engaging consumers.

The fact that Influencer Marketing is now seeing a surge in adoption by savvy brands and agencies is not surprising.  According to a recent eMarketer Report, “Influencer Marketing for US Brands”, 61% of US marketers planned to increase Influencer Marketing budgets in 2016.  While there is no single solution for keeping digital advertising relevant to consumers, including Influencer Marketing in the mix allows brands to more effectively and authentically engage their target audience.