Maintaining a Balance of Loyalty to Members and Advertisers

This week, Facebook announced that it will block ad blockers, but it will also keep Facebook users in mind by giving them ad preferences. What lessons can associations take in walking the tightrope between loyalty to their advertisers and their members?

We’ve all been there, right? We’ve clicked a link and instead of getting what we want—that desired story, video, or product—we’ve had to suffer through an advertisement. We might sigh or tap our fingers on our desks while we endure the mandatory five-second portion of a video advertisement, all the while anxiously hunting for the “x,” so we can get the heck away from it. Or maybe that’s just me?

Enter ad-blocking software—software that blocks the annoying ads—which, by the way, I don’t use. But it’s become pretty popular. In fact, according to a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau study [PDF], an estimated 26 percent of people surveyed used it on their desktop computers and laptops, while 15 percent people used it on their mobile devices. Still another 17 percent of the people surveyed—who weren’t currently using ad-blocking software—were tempted to start using it.

From these statistics, we can glean that large percentages of people don’t like digital ads—and are even taking the trouble to implement software to get away from them. But while users dislike ads, companies dislike ad blockers even more because advertising pays for content that users consume. And if large numbers of users aren’t viewing the ads on a company’s website, then advertisers might stop coming to the table. And if advertisers stop coming to the table, who is going to pay for the content?

Mark Thompson, president and chief executive of The New York Times spoke at an ad industry conference in June, saying: “We need to spell this out clearly to our users. The journalism they enjoy costs real money and needs to be paid for. Advertising is a vital part of the revenue mix.”

In light of all of this, yesterday Facebook announced that it’s going to block ad blockers, but it’s throwing users a bone too. With the help of an ad-preferences tool, Facebook is allowing users to have some say in the ads that show up in their profiles and feeds.

“We want people to help us do a better job with ads, rather than to fundamentally alter the way the service is rendered,” Andrew Bosworth, vice president for Facebook’s ads and business platform, told The New York Times.

Precision advertising is an idea that Mitch Barns, CEO of Nielsen, broached in a piece on Adweek. “Supported by more and better data, and evolving technology and tools, marketers are able to be more precise with their advertising today than ever before,” Barns wrote in the piece. “More precision means less waste—less advertising directed at people who won’t respond. Less waste means a better return on investment.”

This conversation on relevant ads, precision ads, and targeted ads is very pertinent to associations and nonprofits who often rely on digital ads to fund their member-centric work.

How can we, as associations, give our advertisers what they require—namely eyes on their ads—while still keeping our members the focus? In an age where digital noise is so loud, how can we, as associations, be mindful about the types of advertisements we put in front of our members? Tell us how your association walks this tightrope.



Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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