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IBM's Watson gives ad blocking insights

News, 21 December 2016

MENLO PARK, CA: Marketers seeking to counter the rise of ad blocking need to embrace greater creativity and allow for uncluttered digital experiences, suggests analysis spearheaded by Watson, IBM's cognitive computing platform.

Tammy Luke, Senior Social Media Research Consultant at IBM, discussed this subject at the Advertising Research Foundation's 2016 ARF West conference.

More specifically, she outlined some headline findings from a study of 49,000 online conversations about advertising – and why consumers block it – conducted by Watson, coupled with further analysis from specialists at IBM.

One group of people, she stated, used this software across the board due to security and privacy fears. A second wanted to support publishers but desired less intrusive ads. And a third blocked ads on certain sites or opted to do so after bad experiences.

These differing audience segments, Luke reported, possessed varying motivations for their decisions to shut out brand messages, but exhibited some common characteristics.

"To an extent, they're all frustrated – frustrated with the disruption in their viewing experience," Luke said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: IBM's Watson provides an insight into ad blocking.)

"The ads interfere with what the users are doing. They're often irrelevant. They also indicate that the ads just aren't engaging to them."

Drilling down into this topic, IBM's research revealed that users of ad blocking software understood this material funded the work of media companies.

"While the users acknowledge that the ads pay for the content and, in general, they want to support the content providers, the user experience issues they're describing really outweigh their sense of what I'll call 'good citizenship'," Luke said.

In persuading such consumers to reincorporate advertising into their digital experiences, brands and publishers might consider adopting a range of new creative and technical policies, according to Luke.

"We found that all three of these groups embody openness. They're willing to try new things. They appreciate art. They seek out creative experiences," she said. "I think this is a group that we could really speak to with some more creative techniques.

"Consumers are less likely to block the ads if they do not interfere with what the user is doing; if they are secure; if they are more relevant; they load faster; they are better designed and non-distracting; and, last but not least, if they are user-controlled."

Data sourced from Warc