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Why out-of-home advertising must resist adblocking schadenfreude

Adblocking has been a hot topic of late, following news that the Apple iOS 9 edition of Safari includes support for content blocking apps that strip out advertising from the web while you browse. Apple has now started removing some adblockers from its App Store after they raced to the top of the download charts.

Blocking ads is controversial, but becoming more and more prevalent as consumer fears over privacy rise. UK adblocking grew by 82 per cent to reach 12 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015, according to the 2015 AdBlocking Report. There are now 198 million active adblock users around the world and the practice was estimated to cost publishers nearly $22 billion during 2015.

Although adblocking on desktop is nothing new, blocking banners, pre-rolls and native advertising on mobile, where ad revenues are currently growing steeply could be a big blow to the mobile sector. At 94 per cent, London has the highest penetration of smartphones in the UK, according to Exterion Media’s online urban community, and the proliferation of smartphone devices has allowed brands unparalleled access to consumers on the move.

The exponential growth of mobile ad spend shows no signs of slowing – mobile ad spend is set to overtake desktop by the end of 2015, according to Marin Software – but if things take a turn for the worse, brands and media agencies may look to branch out when it comes to finding new, effective ways to gain access to the mobile consumer.

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) media owners are increasingly able to provide access to this mobile consumer.

The industry has a lot to offer when it comes to reaching a mobile audience. Thanks to advancements in the use of data and technology, both targeting and accountability in DOOH have drastically improved. And DOOH is now responsible for a quarter of all UK OOH spend, according to the Outsmart, with UK DOOH sites set to grow more than 40 per cent between now and 2020, according to Kinetic Worldwide.

Out-of-Home doesn’t need ad blocking. The ads are already ‘fine-tuned’ as they’re leveraged from data to deliver guaranteed engagement. These iconic OOH experiences change the very fabric of what consumers see every day, with more targeted and engaging content - especially where consumers don’t expect it. Utilising technology and data is the natural next step for the industry as a whole and as we all continue to innovate, the speed of those changes will just accelerate.

We recently partnered with Telefónica UK to transform the data insights we are able to offer our advertisers. Telefónica UK has collected audience data from across its mobile network of 24 million O2 devices. It processes relevant big data events created by a selection of these devices, then analyses the trends within the data to understand more about consumer behaviour.

We have found the benefits of intelligently mining this data invaluable. It enables us to facilitate campaigns that engage people and transform ordinary journeys into extraordinary experiences.

Moreover, in June, we equipped 500 London buses with beacon technology. Developed in collaboration with international mobile proximity marketing company Proxama, the solution uses Bluetooth Low Energy beacon technology to send targeted in-app messages to commuters’ mobile devices. This followed a successful six month beacon trial on 110 buses in Norwich, which saw 30 per cent of users clicking through from receipt of notification.

Mobile advertising is becoming more complex, but whatever the fallout from the rise of adblocking, DOOH is now more than capable of providing that increasingly important, screen-based mobile audience to advertisers.

Shaun Gregory, CEO at Exterion Media