The popularity of online advertising has taken a bit of a hit in recent times.
Pretty consistently, online advertising methods like banner ads, pop-ups, and social media ads rank significantly below offline methods like print ads and radio ads when it comes to consumer trust.
To illustrate the point even further, we only need to take a look at ad blocker downloads. These have been increasing fairly steadily, about 41% year on year.
Despite this wave of resistance to online ads, companies remain undeterred, and last year online advertising revenue overtook broadcast and cable for the first time ever.
There’s clearly a problem here. People seem to be getting more repulsed by online advertising, reacting with annoyance and distrust, but advertisers don’t seem to be getting the message.
Something has to be done to change public perception, and restore internet users’ faith in ads. If not, we’ll be stuck with a situation that benefits nobody.
To really get to grips with the problem, we need to take a look at why people are so turned off by online ads, and why companies are so set on using advertising methods that seem to be driving customers away.
The Current Issues
Right now, advertising is controlled largely by third-party tech giants like Facebook and Google. These guys absolutely rule the online ad space, accounting for about 73% of all digital advertising in the U.S. and about 83% of growth in that space.
Why do they dominate so much? Well, much of it boils down to personal data.
When we use these services, they are able to collect valuable data about us. That’s information about what we typically search for, our interests and hobbies, the things we tend to buy or fantasize about buying.
The platforms then use this information to help advertisers target ads on their platform towards people who will be most likely to respond and buy what they’re selling.
The problem is, because advertisers go through a third party, they often end up inaccurately targeting ads. Users end up with irritating and irrelevant ads, and advertisers waste their money.
A better solution would be to personalize ads more, by building direct working relationships between advertisers and buyers, but the centralized, third-party-dominated model doesn’t allow for that.
The result of doing this for so long has been a slow erosion of users’ trust in online ads. Many people now associate ads with deception, intrusiveness, and being impersonal.
What’s more, people are generally unhappy about platforms like Facebook having control over their personal data, which they consider an invasion of privacy.
In a recent survey, just over half of the respondents said they didn’t trust Facebook, and only 41% trusted the company to obey laws protecting users’ data privacy.
So we’re left with a situation where consumers not only dislike the intrusive and impersonal style of most online ads, but also distrust the model that underpins most online advertising.
The solution is to change the model, and move away from third-party monopolies to a system where users have greater control and advertisers can work with their prospects more directly.
The ideal tool for this could be blockchain technology.
How Blockchain Could Save Online Ads
Blockchain is great for building decentralized networks; systems that challenge centralization and third-party dominance.
In the ad space, blockchain could help shift away from Facebook and Google to a model where advertisers can build more personal and effective relationships with users.
One company looking at this approach is BAT. They want to use their Basic Attention Token, which can be exchanged between users, content publishers, and advertisers, to bring more fairness to online advertising. This all takes place within their very own browser, Brave.
Another company in the space is KindAds. Unlike BAT, they don’t require users to download a special browser.
KindAds want to give users more control over their data, taking it away from third-party giants. This way, users will have the power to decide which companies can see and use their personal data, and be rewarded in tokens when they do.
Advertisers will once again be able to forge more meaningful, direct relationships with customers. They’ll be able to use more personal and pleasant types of advertising as opposed to impersonal, intrusive banner ads and the like.
This way, blockchain can help us move to a much more tolerable model of online advertising, one which users actually enjoy and benefit from. This will help turn the tide and make ads more popular, bringing success to advertisers and their consumers at the same time.
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