The changing face of digital advertising

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Advertising. It’s a fact of life. Before the era of the smartphone and on-demand TV consumers had no choice but to sit through adverts. A captive audience who couldn’t escape them unless they made a cup of tea to kill the time. The advertising landscape has changed beyond recognition in the past few years, but what does this mean for brands and media companies who rely on this for vital revenue?

What’s changing?

In terms of device usage, everything has changed. But when we’re talking technical there have been two sea changes picked up in the recent press:

  • The rise of adblockers
  • Google ad results changes

Let’s take each in turn.

The rise of ad blockers


The culture secretary, John Whittingdale, has describe adblocking as a ‘protection racket’. A clear and present danger to the future of media advertising. But have publishers bought this upon themselves by trying to maximise profit from visitors with ever-intrusive advert placements? Take YouTube for example, you rarely find a video these days that doesn’t have an advert at the start, even if some can still be skipped after certain number of seconds.

On mobile, network providers are offering a potential solution to consumers with Three offering adblocking as a service and Apple allowing adblocking in the latest iOS update. The Guardian reported this week that 22% of British web users over 18 years old use adblocker software to strip ads from digital content. The highest amount, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes from the digital natives, with 47% of 18-24 year olds likely to block ads.

Instead of blocking all content, consumers were happy to switch off adblocking software in certain situations, and one in five surveyed by IAB UK no longer use the software. This is especially prevalent on mobile devices, which make up 26% of all adblockers used, where the adblocker is not updated when their device is upgraded.

What are your thoughts on adblockers? Do you use them?

Advice for marketers using display advertising

With more content than ever out there, content distribution is becoming increasingly important for companies to get heard above the noise. Display advertising is becoming a balance of getting content seen and not irritating your consumers. Ads ultimately help YouTube and large digital publishers remain free to view, so it’s a trade-off for consumers.

Displaying content means understanding the consequences as does accessing it. The industry doesn’t yet seem to have a definitive answer for how to tackle this, so for now it’s very much business as usual. 

Google Ad results changes

Another related display ad change in the recent press is the results page changes. You may have noticed that there are now no longer two columns when you search on desktop. Google have removed the adverts in the right hand column, instead now showing the top four in a single column at the top of the page, with three adverts at the bottom of the page (unchanged).

This means you’ll no longer see a results page that looks like this: 


Image credit: Search Engine Watch

It’ll now look like this:


Meaning the maximum number of ads that appear on any one results page is down to 7 from 11 previously. Generally the ads in the right hand column were considered less relevant for users and it seems to be a natural progression for them. Also, now that more searches are carried out on mobile devices the user experience is broadly unchanged. 

Advice for marketers using Google Adwords

However, it will affect advertisers in different ways, so here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Monitor your reports – See if your impressions have gone down since the 19th February when the change came in.
  • Keep an eye on your bids, budget and average position – Don’t overact and increase your budget if you don’t need to.
  • Continue to review your targeting and copy to make sure your quality score is maintained – The relevance of the advert to the keywords on the web page and the terms you’re bidding against will help with your overall position, this is business as usual. 

Have you noticed any changes to the above metrics since the changes came in?


Display advertising and Google advertising are two vital revenue streams for many small and large businesses. Navigating all the changes made by large corporates and applications is often impossible as things really can change overnight. The best thing to do is to continue to experiment with your digital advertising spend in piecemeal quantities to work out what channels are best for your brand. 


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