Word is spreading about the first keynote session at Velocity 2016, led by Bruce Lawson, the CTO of Opera. Its topic? “Making Bad Ads Sad.”
The gist of the keynote? That marketers are focused on ad blocking as it affects revenue and business plans, but are too often ignoring the goose that could lay the golden egg: user experience.
It’s kind of like politicians who need to reminded: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
That struck a resounding chord with Mehdi Daoudi in a blog post at CatchPoint.
“Don’t listen to self-described experts who claim that people hate ads,” Daoudi writes. “They don’t. They hate waiting. They hate ads interfering with their user experience. They hate ads eating into their battery life, eating their data plans. These things are all related to performance, not content. If consumers didn’t notice ads causing a big performance drop-off, they wouldn’t invest the time and effort to block them.”
On the other hand, some interesting new info is available. Apparently, sometimes it’s the ad blockers that depress performance.
“That was one finding when we looked at how a handful of prominent sites were affected by ad blocking recently,” Daoudi explains. “In a few cases, pages actually loaded slower when ad blocking was turned on. We used Pi-Hole, a DNS-based ad blocker, to test the difference by the way – so our methodology could have produced different results than AdblockPlus or another popular extension might have generated. But the point is still valid: you cannot assume that ad blocking will always improve site performance.”
Still, he says, “there are plenty of examples – especially in the news media – of sites that deliver worse user experiences because ads perform poorly and slow them down.”
His view is that the industry “needs leadership to focus not on the economic problem, but on the customer experience problem and the performance problem.”
Daoudi would like it if the IAB were to take the lead, set and enforce standards, and make sure that ads do not interfere with user experience, whether they’re part of ecommerce sites, news sites, or any other sites.
“Consumers aren’t waiting,” insists Daoudi. “They’re taking action and blocking ads, and if the industry doesn’t wake up and fix this soon consumers will have already solved it – and not in a way that the advertising world wants.”
The blog post contains an interesting chart showing load times for various sites with ad blockers on and off. It’s worth a look, truly.