Ads Are Dead… Now What?
In case you haven’t heard… ads on mobile are dead.
Last week, Apple released iOS 9 for iPhones and iPads. In a move that is scaring a lot of sites, one of the new features included in the update is the ability to add ad blockers to Safari, the built-in browser.
Basically, mobile ads – including ads for your business, or the kinds of ads that generate revenue for your site – are screwed.
Since ad blockers are widely available on desktop and Android, iOS was the last big holdout for mass audiences. Now that blocking most ads is as easy as installing an app, publishers and business owners are worrying about the future:
- Will potential customers be unable to find business websites?
- Will ad revenue be completely decimated?
- How will ad-driven sites find different, comparable revenue streams?
The biggest question on the minds of business owners is, How will business reach their audience without advertising?
Why Some Businesses Are Thrilled About the Death of Ads
No one’s really sure how this is going to shake out in the long run, but there’s a group of business owners who are happy about these changes. Business owners who invested in organic traffic generation – such as content marketing and SEO – aren’t seeing any declines in their traffic.
Why? Simple: they don’t use ads.
It’s possible to drive traffic to your site without ads. In fact, businesses that know how to do this are now able to steal traffic from their competitors who weren’t ready for the ad collapse. These smart businesses are using ad-free tactics to scoop up “lost” customers from competitors who didn’t diversify:
- Content marketing
- Guest posting
- Sponsored posts
- Video marketing
- Email marketing
- …And more.
Marketing legend Seth Godin wrote about what these changes mean:
[This change] reinforces the fundamental building blocks of growth today:
- The best marketing isn’t advertising, it’s a well-designed and remarkable product.
- The best way to contact your users is by earning the privilege to contact them, over time.
- Making products for your customers is far more efficient than finding customers for your products.
- Horizontally spread ideas (person to person) are far more effective than top-down vertical advertising.
- More data isn’t the point. Data to serve explicit promises is the point.
- Commodity products can’t expect to easily build a profitable ‘brand’ with nothing but repetitive jingles and noise.
- Media properties that celebrate their ads (like Vogue) will continue to thrive, because the best advertising is the advertising we would miss if it was gone.
Media companies have always served the master who pays the bill… the advertiser. At some point, the advertiser will wake up and choose to do business in a new way, and my guess is that the media that we all rely on will change in response. But in the meantime, it seems as though many online consumers have had enough.
Is your business prepared for an ad-free future? If you’re relying just on advertising for your website traffic, you’re going to have a rough 2016.
The TLDR Marketing Report is going to publish a special issue about how ads aren’t the only (or best) way to drive traffic, build customer relationships, and grow your business. Subscribe now to reserve your copy.