October 6, 2015

The biggest issue facing digital (online) advertising in the future is what will be the impact of ad-blocking software. As reported by the Wall St. Journal (WSJ) some prominent voices in the ad industry believe that if the ads were better, people wouldn’t block them. Wrong. As the WSJ pointed out the problem goes far deeper than creative issues.

Many people are blocking ads because they are a ubiquitous annoyance tracking our every move across the Web. Still, “better ads” was a common refrain during last week’s Advertising Week panels (even Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made this point). Ad executive Jeff Goodby (a San Francisco ad legend) said the real problem is the “way ads are served,” leaving users feeling that they can’t avoid them. Jeff, you got it.

Digital tracking has become so successful that people keep seeing ads for things they really have no interest in, even if they once searched for those items. For example, I went to the L.L. Bean website eight months ago to order some shoes… and I still see their ads every darn day! The real issue: is the best one-on-one marketing tool, the internet, so focused on past web behavior it doesn’t realize that past behavior does not always predict future behavior? Love to hear your thoughts.

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