Our Perspective: Changing Digital Ad Road Blocks Into Speed Bumps

The last decade has seen many brands turn their marketing budgets and focus on to digital channels due to the amount of opportunities and the ability to reach so many people. However, with all the attention focused on reaching consumers through content and services, the most important factor has been neglected: user experience. No user wants to jump online for a quick search only to be met with ads shouting a one way conversation at them. This is apparent with the growing number of consumers becoming increasingly eager to use ad blocking software. According to research by Adobe, the number of ad-blocking users rose 41% year-on-year to 193m by mid-2015. The estimated blocked revenue for 2015 was $21B which is 14% of global ad revenue and this figure is expected to rise to $41.4B in 2016!

There are a number of reasons why consumers are revolting against digital advertising ranging from the unwanted disruption, security concerns, reduction of speed in loading pages and data usage. However, the biggest reason is that many ads don’t add value for users and simply clutter their browsers and interrupt their intended digital experience. Unfortunately, distaste for digital ads and negative digital experiences are damaging consumer perception of many brands.

To ensure that brands don’t erode their appeal with consumers, they need to think about how they are connecting with users on these platforms. Marketers need to create content that consumers want to engage with instead of avoid. Rather than cluttering browsers and creating ads that detract from the users intended digital experience, smart marketers are developing ads that work to engage consumers and build on their brand equity.


With ad blocking increasing exponentially, browsers are going to potentially reduce the number of ad space available and increase the prices of these ads to deter people from downloading ad blocker. This will mean that digital ads will become more expensive so marketers need to ensure that the ads are working hard to provide an appropriate return on investment.

Brands are maximising their reach with other forms of communication such as their packaging. With digital advertising becoming more uncertain, the conviction of their packaging, unrestricted by ‘blocking’, is increasingly being looked at as a way to talk to their consumers beyond communicating their brand name and product claims.

Coke saw this opportunity and approached it in a clever, engaging way with their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign aiming it at Gen Z to try and increase awareness and brand love. Tapping into the mass personalisation trend, Coke famously printed all our names on their packaging understanding the value of their free real estate and recognising the importance of the shopper journey. Translating that to digital, Coke developed ads that were appropriate for each medium.  On YouTube, Coke researched the top 100 searches and created short ads with the names of the trending athletes and entertainers in order to appeal to the users.  On Yahoo!, Coke created banners that fit profiles based on what users liked and optimized them in real time.


Coke achieved huge success with the campaign. Not only did they apply mass personalisation to their packaging and digital communication but they took it a step further by changing the way they engaged with consumers on different platforms. It saw their brand awareness and brand love score increase globally and ultimately resulted in an increase of sales.

It is essential that the digital experience creates dialogue, particularly on social media or video-sharing platforms; anything else on these mediums defeats the original and intended interactive purpose of the platforms. But more importantly, any advertising or digital experience your brand creates should always work to build your brand and your equity. Always remember why the brand exists and the purpose behind your brand.