What follows is my comment (the first one!) under Confusion Reigns as Apple Puts the Spotlight on Mobile Ad Blocking, in AdAge. I’ve added some links.
Marketers should be looking at what the market wants, and why.
The market is customers, and they are speaking to marketers today by making ad blockers the most popular browser extensions, and by telling survey after survey that they dislike having their privacy invaded by unwanted tracking (TRUSTe, Pew, Customer Commons) and that they are resigned to a status quo they don’t like (Wharton).
In other words, the “key link between brands and customers” that customers sever with ad blocking isn’t a link at all. It’s a pain in the customer’s ass, or they wouldn’t be severing it.
Apple knows ads and tracking are pains in the customers’ ass, because Apple is a B2C company that speaks every day to customers, on phones and on the floors of its stores. Apple sees there is a clear and obvious demand for Content Blocking, and want to be first to market with it. Serving that demand doesn’t hurt Apple outside of iAd, which accounts for a whopping 0.01% of Apple’s sales. (And what will Content Blocking add to Apple’s device sales? You can bet that Apple is running those numbers.)
Meanwhile marketing doesn’t speak to customers, because marketing lives in a B2B echo chamber where the voice of the customer (hello!) is inaudible or ignored. [Later: Iain Henderson has some excellent push-back on this characterization, plus some helpful guidance, in his comment here.]
Sure, marketers *think* they know what customers want, because they have Big Data and Big Analytics telling them, up to the second, what a customer might want to buy. Three problems with that: 1) there is no direct and conscious two-way interaction with customers; 2) most of the time customers aren’t buying a damn thing; and 3) guesswork based on all that data and analytics is wrong 99.x% of the time, thanks to #1 and #2.
Denying and fighting what customers want is doing huge damage to marketing and advertising, and it will only get worse as long as it continues.
Look at the damage already done to plain old impersonal brand advertising, which customers could appreciate because it wasn’t creepy and obviously helped pay for the magazines, newspapers, radio and TV shows they liked. (And none of which they thought of as “content,” by the way.)
Today we live in a dysfunctional marketing world where advertisers have been taught to want every ad to perform — while customers want every ad, and the tracking that aimed it, blocked. (AdAge should do a research piece on how direct marketing body-snatched advertising from Madison Avenue. If you don’t, your body has been snatched too.)
The only way to fix this is from the customers’ side.
Would customers accept ads that obviously aren’t personal (based on tracking), and clearly pay for the online goods they want and appreciate? Is there still hope for that baby?
Only if we can snatch it from the bathwater that customers’ ad blockers are throwing out.
Can we create standards-based ways for customers to express their friendly intentions regarding tracking, advertising, subscriptions and the rest of it, to marketing systems that can actually listen?
If you’re interested I can show you some more.