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VR could end ad blocking

News, 17 November 2015

DUBLIN: Banner on mobile is an "awful, intrusive ad unit" and should be scrapped, according to a leading Facebook executive who sees a bright future for immersive virtual reality ads.

Dave Jakubowski, Facebook's head of ad tech, told Marketing Week that such ad units were among the reasons for the rise in ad blocking. "It is clear that these [consumer] experiences must improve," he declared.

And he predicted that the major trends in 2016 would revolve around native and video on mobile, as "marketers will have to go deeper to connect with the audience".

Jakubowski noted that mobile has seen the fastest-ever adoption of a mass communication technology and "naturally video will be the primary format people use to engage".

He added that he regarded virtual reality (VR) and Oculus Rift as "the natural evolution for video advertising as nothing can offer marketers the same level of immersive experiences".

That, in turn, could have a significant impact on the issue of ad blocking, as he submitted that VR can help make brands less intrusive.

"In terms of VR, a brand becoming more cinematic creates more engagement and storytelling so is less about intrusive ads," he argued.

With the term "Adblockalypse" and martial metaphors featuring regularly in discussions about ad blocking, industry figures have called for an end to the "war" and a "peace treaty" between advertisers and consumers.

Huib van Bockel, former head of marketing for energy drink Red Bull, pointed out that even marketers are seeking to shield themselves from the very ad messages they create, as many had installed ad blockers and upgraded to Spotify Premium.

Writing in Marketing he suggested brands think of themselves in terms of a bank account – how much are they depositing there (good content, engaging events etc) and how much are they taking out (pre-rolls, pop-ups, radio ads etc).

Similarly, Jed Hallam, head of digital strategy at Mindshare UK, called for an agreement that would see advertisers put more effort into ensuring that they find the right person, at the right time, with the right message in return for consumers no longer using ad blocking software.

Data sourced from Marketing Week, Marketing; additional content by Warc staff