KHWS Blog: How to break an Ad block habit

How to break an ad block habit


It’s not uncommon for Millennials and iGens to use ad blockers. To be honest, I don’t blame them. While trawling through the internet, the constant bombardment on many websites slows download times, interrupts user experiences, and most of the time is fairly uninspiring.

YouTube ads are no different. Users want to watch and explore the videos they have chosen without being disturbed. Ad blockers afford users that luxury; skipping TrueView’s in-stream ‘Skippable’ (after five seconds), ‘Non-skippable’ (15-20 seconds) and ‘Bumper’ (up to six seconds) ads. What a bonus. Uninterrupted bliss.

But for us, as marketers, this is disastrous. Our meticulously defined and distilled target audiences have thought it best to become blind to all ads presented to them, due to a lack of trust and a high level of disdain for the quality of ads.

And it isn’t just Millennials and iGens who are installing ad blockers. Baby Boomers and Generation Xers who were once generally more accepting of in-stream ads, are adopting this behaviour too. So now they can also watch the sport highlights of a match without having to load an ad between each video.


So how to break the habit?

To try and curb the annoyance and desperation of YouTubers waiting to watch the-kitten-riding-a-turtle video, this year Google have retired the 30 second, non-skippable ad. In April, Google launched ‘TrueView for Reach’, whereby YouTube allows brands to leverage a user’s search history and ‘TrueView for Action’ ads, working on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis. This new feature allows brands to target consumers with direct response-style videos appearing on YouTube after users Google search for something connected.

It will enable more prominent calls to action and remain featured alongside the host video while it plays. Advertisers will pay for TrueView in-stream ads after viewers watch 30 seconds, the video ends or viewers interact with the ads, but users can choose to skip the ads after five seconds. During beta testing, this has already dramatically reduced campaign CPM for brands like Pepsi, by allowing them to be super targeted. Bumper ads that take up five or six seconds will become more common on the platform, driving average ad recall to over 20%. This, Google says, demonstrates their commitment to “providing a better ad experience for users online.”


Are all ads worth skipping?

Cast your mind back to the Cannes Lions 2015 Grand Prix winner from insurance brand Geico whose ‘Unskippable’ ad picked up the prize for best film. By using the in-stream, skippable five second ads, their whole ad campaign was centred on the premise that ‘you can’t skip this ad because it is already over’. By using a freeze frame, except for one subtle moving element, you’re compelled to actually watch the whole ad, surpassing the compulsory five seconds. It was a simple but ingenious way to make the ads engaging and ‘unskippable’.


Snickers in the Middle East also adopted a similar approach earlier this year, by using the in-stream, non-skippable 20 second ads to their advantage with their “Pre-Video Videogames” which gamifies the ad, inviting users to play. Highlighting their campaign line, “you’re not you, when you’re hungry” the game involves normalising the hunger-enraged character. By pausing the ad, the user has to try and get the moving chocolate bar into the deranged character’s hand, and thus return them to their sated self. Simplistic in execution, yet imaginative, you find yourself transfixed on trying to pause the ad at precisely the right moment. Before long, the entire ad is over and you either feel proud that you achieved this, or desperate to redo it and ‘complete’ the game.

Both examples create a concept that cuts through the noise of ads and entices users wanting to interact with the ads, instead of actively avoiding them. But ultimately, it is down to brands and their agencies to create inspiring and interesting ads to kick this habit sweeping across users.