The Blog


Last week, Mary Meeker released the 2016 Internet Trends Report - a goliath of information, insights and all-round fantastic (and unsettling) findings.

As an agency working in the realm of digital advertising, this was a veritable goldmine. Not only is it valuable information, I believe that when it landed on my desk my words were something along the lines of 'Gosh! 213 slides? Where do I start?'

The part of the report I found particularly shocking was the adblocking statistics. I'm sure more articles have been written on adblocking than episodes of Game of Thrones illegally downloaded, but Meeker's findings showed this not just to be an industry issue, but an epidemic.

Let me stat you up...

  • 93% of consumers consider using ad blocking software
  • Desktop adblocking has grown 16% globally YOY for the past 7-years
  • Mobile adblocking software is up by 94% YOY

I'm just going to let that sink in.

Yeah, pretty heavy.

Yet, despite these statistics that on some online channels advertising is being shut out altogether, on traditional media formats consumers have employed attention-based ad blocking for a long time.

This is an issue for media agencies in terms of the relevancy of activity they buy and for creative agencies in terms of how best to talk to audiences.

It has even become an issue for mobile service providers. With a recent stat claiming that 20% of mobile data is being used up on advertising, customers are paying data charges to receive unwanted adverts. Because of this, networks such as Three have began introducing adblocking software to their contracts.

The issue here is two-fold: firstly, from a data point of view - who is really paying for advertising; and secondly, from an attention point of view - advertising is intrusively wasting audience attention.

However, as a content agency - Content Agency of the Year, in fact - we are going to look at this issue from a content-first point of view.

We have long told our clients that any advertising you have the audacity to shove in front of an audience should AT LEAST have 3 qualities: relevance to the audience, provide something of value to that audience, and give them a reason to engage with the advertising.

At the core, this idea is about creating content that an audience will want to spend time with. Whether through a video-led or editorial approach, the principal is the same.

We are lucky to work with leading clients across the world, including Quorn & NCS. Differing brands maybe, but both have an issue that almost all brands have - how to reach their audience and how to drive brand re-evaluation.

For NCS we have had the joy of being part of the launch of the fastest growing youth movement since the Scouts.

Reaching a famously difficult audience of teens, we have advocated a content-first approach. Take for example the work we did recently working with spoken word poet, Suli Breaks. We brought a message to millions of young people about the benefits of saying 'Yes!' to new opportunities in an exciting and relevant way.

Being at the forefront of cultural trends in spoken word poetry, this film delivered a powerful brand message while also being a valuable piece of content for audiences to spend time with.

Similarly with Quorn, our client suffered a brand perception problem. Audiences knew the health benefits of the product but were unsure as to their taste credentials.

Our solution was to engage social audiences in their own language - food porn. And so was born #FoodQuorn. Our content series for Quorn delivered a functional benefit to audiences who engaged with it - great recipes to use day-to-day but also an emotional benefit. Due to fantastic art direction the films were visually stunning and mouth-wateringly appealing.

For both of these brands we have always advocated serving this content in environments where audiences want to engage with it. So skipping the at-home self, diagnostics pages and focussing on active, healthy lifestyle channels.

Both of these campaigns rewarded audiences for their attention, in both rational benefits and entertainment. Ultimately it is about understanding your audience and being relevant, valuable and engaging. Let's not waste the audience's attention, but reward it - or more and more people will just tell you to block off.