Back with another one of those ad blocking bleats

The following post is Edition 1 of Everybody Knows, our new weekly newsletter publication exploring the realms of creativity, popular culture, media, art and technology. – one topic at a time. Consider subscribing now.

So let’s get this straight: online ad blocking is not new. Since the dawn of the web, people have been trying and buying a variety of ways to stop the blinking, flashing and irritation. And as more and more options like Chrome extensions and mobile plugins have become available, in recent years ad blocking has become more widespread amongst a non-tech audience. But over the last couple of months, ad blocking has begun to pop up in more and more industry forums, vendor pitches and marketing meetings. There was the widely distributed study suggesting far wider use of ad blocking than previously thought. Then there was the tale of the celebrated app developer who famously announced it ‘just doesn’t feel good’ to make ad blocking software. And of course, when Apple moves, people take note. By incorporating ad blocking features into its Safari browser in iOS9, the industry conversation has recently moved from a constant mumble into a noisey bar room public debate.

From a behavioural consumption perspective, this feels like it might just be a natural evolution from TV’s ad-skipping and time-shifting. Alternatively, ad blocking could be seen as part of the progression from listening to commercial radio to paying Spotify and others to help us avoid ads completely. But when it comes to online advertising, it’s hard not to consider that we may be going into a cycle of ‘Creative destruction’. This is a term, also know as ‘Schupmter’s Gale’, coined by economist Joseph Schumpter, that describes the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, destroying the old one and incessantly creating a new one”. In other words, in this case the online ad industry might well be eating itself from within, a process hastened by its own dodgy practices, like bloated code and ad assets, and its appetite for ultimate revenue at the expense of usability and privacy. Are ad blocking people the real problem?


Then there’s the ethics of ad blocking. Publishers, and all sorts of makers of online content, could have today’s types of revenue streams decimated in a world that embraces turning off ads. It will be the long tail of publishers hit hardest, those that don’t have close relationships with brands or agencies thus are not able to collaborate on bespoke content or arrangements. As consumers, many of us claim that if ad platforms behaved themselves, we wouldn’t object to ads at all. Or if we could simply pay publishers and creators for the content that we end up consuming every month, we’d be fine with that. But what we say and how we act are often two very different things. And many smaller publishers may not have the time to find out.

With fat ad creative and intrusive tracking code, it’s mobile users that get hit hardest. Getting rid of mobile ads can help reduce unwanted data collection and privacy infractions – and massively save on mobile data bills. It’s conceivable that with the move to mobile for the majority of our daily online activities, combined with the increasingly available mobile ad avoidance options, we’ll see a huge spike in ad blocking on our favourite devices. Mobiles put all issues of usability right up in your face – and there’s no bigger impediment to content consumption than bad ads.

Much of the industry is looking to native advertising to retain an embedded marketing presence in front of the ad blockers. But there are concerns that many of these native ad units may also fall foul of blocking software. The report from Adobe and Pagefair recently estimated ad blockers will cost publishers nearly $22 billion in revenue this year, and that nearly 200 million people worldwide already regularly block ads. These numbers seem on the high side compared to other estimates, but they surely suggest that the issue isn’t unsubstantial.

The IAB has now admitted we all messed up. A tidal wave of ad blocking might still only be on the horizon, but in the meantime let’s try and make better ads, use empathetic formats, let’s temper our greed, and for god’s sake, think of the children!


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On half-life and hustle

So this week we’ve learned a lot about operating in a live media environment with our live version of a demented Q&A. And beyond what tools of destruction are most effective, we’ve also been plying our trade – trying to drum up audience engagement, and successfully drawing audiences from sources as varied as Facebook, Reddit, Gumtree and Flatmatefinder. We’ve cracked 110K user sessions in 4 days.

If nothing else this has definitely highlighted the challenges and in some cases opportunities that various channels present, but mainly I think, that running media effectively live requires the rolling up of sleeves, and an implicit understanding of the formats and constant monitoring and iteration of those activities.

To this point. I dug up a study on link clicks which provides a very interesting view of the lifespan of social media posts. The study looked at 1,000 popular social media links to determine how persistent they were. Knowing exactly how long your posts have to engage with your audience is extremely useful for shaping your social media strategy and creating individual posts.

The study found that the half-life – the amount of time at which a link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak – for each social network’s post was:

– Twitter’s mean half-life of a link is 2.8 hours
– Facebook’s mean half-life is 3.2 hours
– For ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients) it’s 3.4 hours
– Youtube links have a mean half-life of 7.4 hours

In addition to knowing this it’s also important to factor in when your audience are using various channels. People dip into Twitter all day but there are clear peaks during morning commutes, lunch time and evenings. Redditt gets super active in the evening and later into the night.

Here are some lessons we’ve noted from working on Deakin Stress Break this week:

– Post in the right ad type or format for the outcome you want
– Target well but be willing to adjust
– Set your budgets to ensure you are competitive
– Post at the optimal time (for the channel)
– Post each piece of content multiple times
– Optimise your post’s message

Finally TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED. You can have an army of media experts working on something, but pretty much no-one cares about your idea as much as you do. Don’t assume anything. Make it happen. Hustle.

Andrew R.


Format-hacking for Jetstar

This is just a post about one post. We work closely with a bunch of our clients on big, small and tiny ideas for social. With Jetstar, we run campaigns, create ‘campaignlettes’ and continually try new content formats and ideas.

Recently, we created an Instagram ad that asked users to screenshot a rapidly-moving animated image to randomly choose where they should go on a holiday next. Kinda destination roulette. People loved it! By using an interaction that is used everyday by people on their mobiles, but not actually embedded in Instagram iteself, we created a really novel way for people to engage with the brand and their travel dreams.


Simple, tiny fun. That worked.

– Over 485,000 consumers reached over the 3 days
– 850 clicks to the website
– 6,400 likes across 3 days and almost 100 re-grams
– Almost 500 comments, a few such as:  ‘Super clever concept – well done Jetstar’, ‘Love this. Great marketing Jetstar’, ‘Very strategic move – bravo to the marketing team’, ‘Best marketing campaign by an airline I’ve seen’.

Sometime’s it’s the little things. Hit play and screenshot the below. Where you off to next?