Three C’s rule the mobile ecosystem: Content, Commerce and Connectivity. If the first day of MWC 2016 focused on connectivity and commerce, mobile content — from how to create and sell it, to where, what and how users are sharing — dominated the conversation in the days after.
The biggest issue? Ad-blocking, of course. It’s a challenge for publishers and advertisers, one that a panel of mobile thought-leaders from companies like Google, IDC, Nestle and Yahoo tried to tackle. There were two key takeaways:
Ad-blocking is a response to “bad” advertising choices
Maybe people wouldn’t want or need to block ads if the ads didn’t disrupt (or outright destroy) their user experience. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad mobile advertising out there. Google, for example, said that it blocked around “two million bad creatives per day.”
This means that all players bear the responsibility for making this situation better. Advertisers need to “rethink ads to ensure quality,” publishers and developers should think about UX, “not just about cutting the number of ads, but making sure they’re non-intrusive.”
Meanwhile, from the ad platform and technology side, we need to focus on making sure that sleek, gorgeous ads don’t require massive amounts of data, “as consumers aren’t always aware of the impact that multimedia ads can have on [their] data allowances until it’s too late.”
Ultimately, making better choices about the frequency, targeting and placement of mobile ads will counteract some of the need for blocking.
But people will accept ads for quality mobile content
So, the solution to ad-blocking is just making better ads? Not quite.
As the panel noted, there’s a need for education and transparency about the explicit value exchange between users and mobile content creators. People need to understand that ads exist because they’re getting content for free — and mobile publishers should give them the option to pay if they don’t want to see them.
(And for the most part, people don’t want to pay. In the UK for example, 62 percent of mobile users voted in favor of free content with ads vs. paying).
Aside from education, there’s also the opportunity to make this value exchange more explicit through ad units themselves. Mobile game and app developers have a unique advantage in this regard, since they’ve been integrating options like rewarded video into their content for years. Figuring out how to incorporate these kinds of user-initiated ads may be the next step for media companies that want to make the trade-off between quality mobile content and advertising more clear.