MIAMI, FL: Agencies must deliver genuine value rather than "irritation" if they want to avoid further encouraging consumers to block ads online, a leading executive from GroupM has argued.

Rob Norman, GroupM's Chief Digital Officer, discussed this subject at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Transformation 2016 conference in Miami.

And he asserted that there is now clearly "a demand on the advertiser and the agency to create value rather than irritation." (For more, including further strategic tips for agencies, read Warc's exclusive report: GroupM's Norman: Advertising's future is in emerging markets.)

This emphasis on providing utility for audiences, instead of negatively impacting digital experiences with disruptive and irrelevant communications, grows more pressing as increasing numbers of web users turn to ad-blocking tools.

Such a trend is, in part, a reaction to the fact that brands, and their agencies, have undoubtedly "taken some liberties with consumers' patience and attention" in the past.

"We have made some mistakes about the ad load in relation to content. We've been clumsy in our use of tracking and, particularly, in pursuit of ‘last attribution' in the pursuit of a sale," said Norman.

In response, practitioners should consider adopting a different view when formulating their strategies and consequent campaigns.

"There is a benchmark we need to think about: the usefulness of communication. We're not going to stop ad blocking," Norman said.

A similar agenda applies to media owners, too, especially when it comes to identifying new solutions that appeal to brands while also pleasing their audience.

"Publishers need to do the best job of creating content that [will diminish] people's propensity to block ads," Norman told the 4A's assembly.

"There is a clear demand on publishers to organise their inventory in a way that is more accommodating to the user experience and still allows for the presence of the advertiser."

Data sourced from Warc