Why You Must Switch to Facebook Ads to Beat the Ad Blockers

How to avoid wasting money on ads that people never see, and get your ad campaigns out of the red and into the black.

Stop Wasting Money on Ads that People Never See

The online ad wars are over, and there are only two combatants left standing. Google and Facebook together now account for an astonishing 99 percent of the growth in digital advertising, and they currently take a massive 77 percent of the online advertising cake. So if you intend to use online advertising to build your business, you are probably going to make a choice between one half of the duopoly or the other.

But which way should you go…Google AdWords or Facebook advertising? Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into making that decision. But here is one very significant factor that doesn’t get as much attention as it should…the impact of ad blockers.

The Continuing Rise of Ad Blockers

Even those of us who make our living from online marketing understand that ads can be annoying. So it’s not surprising that the ad-blocking software industry has mushroomed into a monster. Over 11 percent of Internet users now use ad-blocking software, blocking ads on over 600 million devices worldwide. But the fact is…

…you ain’t seen nothing yet. The use of ad blockers has been growing at over 30 percent per annum, but that is set to increase. And to see proof of that, we only have to look at what’s happening in Asia. In the developing world where the market has largely gone straight to mobile devices, the growth in ad blocking is off the charts. In Indonesia, for example, two thirds of internet users routinely block ads on their phones and tablets.

“There’s been a massive surge of mobile ad-blockers in [Asia] that no one anticipated,” says Sean Blanchfield, chief executive of PageFair. “In the West, I expect the same trend to blindside us in the very near future.”

Now Indonesia may not be exactly a core market for you, but this trend is already spreading westwards very rapidly. So what happens when two thirds of American and European internet users are blocking ads? That’s going to be a big problem for a heck of a lot of advertisers.

The Insidious Impact of Ad Blocking on Advertisers

The obvious impact of ad blocking is that a big chunk of your target audience never gets to see your ads. And the size of that chunk is set to grow rapidly year by year. To make things worse, you are still paying for these ads if you are paying for impressions. As far as the ad network is concerned, the ad has been served…and your credit card gets dinged for ads that nobody saw.

But the problem goes deeper than that. These blocked ads affect your campaigns in many other ways. For starters, they reduce your click-through rate – if people can’t see your ads, they are never going to click on them. This pushes your cost per click up, and could turn a potentially profitable campaign into a loser.

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Because you are losing clicks that should have been yours, the number of visitors to your website is reduced. This means the size of your retargeting audience is reduced, too – so you have a smaller pool of people to retarget in future. The ramifications go far beyond the initial click…or lack of a click.

All of this adds up to a serious problem for online advertisers. Especially if you advertise on Google’s display network…

Why Google Gives into Extortion

You would think that if any company had the resources to eviscerate the ad-blocking industry, it would be Google. After all, they are highly motivated to do so. Ad blocking is already costing them billions of dollars in revenue, and the problem is getting worse by the day.

Yet Google has already lost this arms race. Every time Google comes up with a strategy to beat the ad blockers, the enemy responds with a quick fix….often within hours. This is because Google’s display inventory depends on third parties. Google’s AdSense ads are shown on many millions of website around the world, with both the website owner and Google taking a cut.

In order for this process to work, Google has to provide the website with a piece of code to run on web pages. This code calls the ad from Google’s servers and makes the whole system function. But it is also Google’s Achilles heel. The Google ad code sticks out like a sore thumb in the page source code, and ad blockers can easily find it and block it. There is simply no way Google can make this code invisible to the ad blockers. It has to be there in some form.

As a result, the unbelievable has happened. The Google Goliath has conceded defeat to the David-size ad-blocking industry. Google has rolled over and now routinely pays millions of dollars to ad-blocking companies to whitelist their ads. If that’s not extortion, then I don’t know what is.

And there’s more. Google is now building ad-blocking into the Chrome browser. So if you are running Google ads, then the company you are buying the ads from is actively blocking people from seeing them. There’s only one expression that covers that kind of logic…


The Facebook Fix

For sure, Facebook has not been immune to the ad-blocking problem. As with Google, there has been an ongoing arms race, with Facebook and the ad-blocking companies continually leap-frogging each other. But in the longer term, this is a war that Facebook is destined to win.

This is because unlike Google, Facebook controls nearly all of the content in its display network. The obvious exception to this is the Facebook Audience Network, but this is a small part of the total inventory, and can easily be excluded from your campaigns if necessary. Everything else you see on Facebook is delivered by Facebook. Ads can be delivered in exactly the same way as regular content. There is no ad code sticking its head above the parapet for ad-blocking software to target.

Of course, this doesn’t stop the ad-blocking companies from trying. But they are forced to resort to complex techniques such as pattern recognition and automated text analysis to try and figure out where the ads are. That’s an expensive proposition, requiring resources that ad-blocking companies simply don’t have. It’s much easier to extort a few million dollars from helpless Google. Ad blocking on Facebook won’t go away, but we can expect its impact to be largely contained.

Switch to Facebook and Get Your Ads Seen

So if you haven’t started with Facebook Ads yet, maybe now is time to hit the ‘pause’ button on your AdWords campaigns and take a close look at what the No. #1 social network has to offer. Beating the ad-blocking problem is just one of the many benefits of advertising on Facebook.

You also get instant access to over two billion monthly active users and a degree of targeting that has never been possible before in the history of advertising. Get good at Facebook advertising and you will have the power to make money on demand. This really is the closest thing to a ‘licence to print money’ ever invented.