Why Millennials Are More Likely to Block Ads—and What You Can Do About It

October 31, 2016 — by Mary Casey    

This post originally appeared on IBM’s THINK Marketing blog.

Millennials, whose purchasing power by 2020 is expected to increase 133 percent, from $600 billion to $1.4 trillion, are big on ad blockers.

A study of 2,700 US internet users ages 18 to 24 conducted by Anatomy Media and just published in eMarketer revealed that most have installed an ad blocker on at least one of their devices. Forty-six percent said they block ads on their desktop and 31 percent on their mobile device—14 percent block on both devices. And with more than 200 million Americans accessing the internet via multiple devices in 2016, it’s likely ad blocking software downloads will continue to surge across both desktops and mobile.

What is it about Millennials in particular that makes them block ads in droves? Research on 1,000 Millennials we conducted in July 2015 might provide a few clues:

  • 55 percent are more likely to click on a mobile ad over a desktop one, which might explain while 15 percent fewer block ads on mobile over desktop
  • 81 percent are likely to click on a native ad over a banner ad, showing a clear preference for more seamless, non-disruptive advertising experiences
  • Eighty-three percent are bothered by remarketing ads

What can advertisers do to prevent Millennials from blocking their ads? It’s important to remember that ad blocking is a symptom of a wider issue around consumer sentiment. The overarching problem is that customers aren’t enjoying their advertising experiences. They want advertising that is more resonant, relevant and easier with which to engage.

Programmatic technology can help broker a more personal advertising experience with the right data, analyzed in the right way and executed in an integrated fashion that lets you coordinate and adapt, as consumer needs and states across the purchase lifecycle change, messaging across channels, not in silos. This is how an antidote to not just ad blocking, but overall customer disconnection with advertising, emerges. A couple of more detailed ways programmatic can help:

  • Data: Get a handle on all of the first-party data in your organization, then onboard it and see if you can enhance it with second- and third-party data to better personalize your messaging to key customers and prospects. A data-management platform that helps you create custom segments that allow you to rapidly adapt messaging before activating in media is key.
  • Cross-device: Being able to recognize users regardless of device—of which Millennials have many—helps you execute a more consistent strategy across screens.
  • Paid and owned media: Marrying paid and owned media offers a single, 360-degree view of customer behaviors across a broader range of marketing touchpoints and improves the delivery of more relevant messaging, at scale.
  • Omnichannel: Omnichannel execution through a single platform provides better storytelling across all channels, in a fluid, non-disruptive way. Marketers can take into consideration a consumer’s interaction in a given channel and adapt their strategy to other channels to create more relevant and consistent messaging.

One comment

  • damiannelus

    October 31, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Surely reaching an audience with more personalized advertisements is the change to come. Nevertheless, it won’t make millennials change their minds about adblockers. There’s a hint in already provided data – non-disruptive experience. I bet my bottom dollar, that the answer is to assist in making a decision and not to interfere during surfing the net. Is there any brand which wants to be connected with disturbing interstitial? Thus advertisers should put more effort into finding ways to be a partner in shopping (with means provided in the above article).

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