2016 is doomed to be a firefighting year for many Digital Marketers. The Marketing world has just adopted the shift towards Mobile and Programmatic Ad Buying since it reaches consumers more efficiently. However, this new “Real Promise” is threatened to collapse – because of Ad Blockers – unless digital marketers wise up.

An Ad Blocker is a program that will remove ads across the web; people can download it on both desktops and mobile devices. The rise of Ad Blockers reflects users’ agonizing online experience – there are just too many annoying ads.

Surprisingly, Ad Blockers are more popular in Canada than in its Southern neighbour. According to PageFair and Adobe, 6.5 million users or 20% of the Canadian internet users are blocking ads compared to 16% in the US. Moreover, Canadians are heavy mobile users, new immigrants in particular who spend about 1.5 times as much as the hours spent by an average Canadian per day (Source: Focus 2014 New Canadian Report). New Canadians are tech-savvy, adaptive to ever changing digital space and heavy internet users. This makes Ad Blocking more than a mainstream issue. It is expected that the percentage of people using Ad Blocking apps on mobile will continue to grow in years to follow, including major ethnic groups in Canada.

While many companies are still waiting to see how others react to Ad Blockers, we suggest taking a close look at how Ad Blocking impacts both mainstream and ethnic communities and adjusting your Digital Marketing plan as soon as possible.

The Bad News: Ad Blockers will not disappear

So far, Ad Blockers have won several key battles against publishers and advertisers:

2015 April – AdBlock Plus achieves victory over German publisher in court
2015 June – Apple iOS 9 allows ad blocking plug-ins on its browser Safari
2015 October – The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB US) admits “We messed up” and releases new “LEAN”guideline for advertisers

The battles haven’t come to an end yet. IAB US recently dis-invited AdBlock Plus representatives from an annual industry summit. Does it mean IAB wants to combat all Ad Blocking companies? Not necessarily. Scott Meyer from Ghostery – an anti-tracking web extension still remains as the speaker of the summit. And the event description reads: “Ad blocking is not a crisis — it’s a clarion call from consumers, who are reminding publishers, agencies, marketers and technologies that the user comes first, last, and always.”

Over the past two years, ad traffic in Canada has decreased by 30%. Marketers might blame Ad Blocking for this result and hope publishers fight back. However, here are the reasons why Ad Blockers will not disappear soon:

A recent survey shows that in the final quarter of 2015, 36.7% of mobile users indicated they have blocked ads lately. Other than that, more than 40% said they are interested in using Ad Blockers on mobile devices in the future. Do you think you can stay aloof from it?

The Good News: You can still stay on top of it

Marketing is evolving all the time! With Ad Blockers on, display ads die. If banner ad is the only thing you’re doing for Mobile Marketing Campaign, you should broaden your horizon.

New tactics are needed for your next marketing campaign because:

As endless attacks and fight back continues between publishers and Ad Blockers, it is better to be prepared for the idea that Ad Blockers are here to stay and will be as much part of our lives as spam blockers.

Ad Blockers are prevalent among 18-34 male demographic. Those who install Ad Blocking apps or plug-ins on their mobile devices tend to be high-tech, highly educated, heavy internet users. No marketer can afford to lose this demographic.

It is expected that the price of display ads will increase due to a decrease in total traffic. Accordingly, ROI of your campaigns will drop if you don’t adjust your plan.

The key message we received from the growth of Ad Blockers is that consumers are tired of banner ads. If this analysis sounds reasonable, you would agree that other forms of ads could gain a larger share of campaigns.

One big trend in digital marketing that has appeared alongside the growth of ad blocking is that many media companies have started creating native ads. Native ads look like editorial articles that you usually see on major publishers and contain valuable content. For example, BuzzFeed provides custom content worth sharing for advertisers which is original, targetable, trackable and unblockable. A lot of companies are trying to include more native ads in their campaigns to avoid the effect of Ad Blockers.

So are there better ways to engage ethnic audiences?

For Multicultural Marketing, it is necessary to make a relevant plan since ethnic groups have their own distinct habits. Be aware – trends change fast.

Ad Blocker doesn’t seem to affect Chinese community a lot. According to a study by Omnicom’s PHD in China, only 3-3.5% of the ads on mobile are blocked. However, it is not a sign that Chinese people have more appetite for mobile ads. The Chinese internet ecosystem is simply different.

As most Chinese immigrants still use Chinese social media and follow trends in China, it is necessary to look inside China to understand the trends and habits of the Chinese community here in Canada. Although the mobile ads market in China has grown at an astonishing speed, Chinese mobile ads are generally more focused on apps and social media, which is hard for ad blocking. For example, Chinese check WeChat on their cellphone every day rather than BuzzFeed – there are tons of promotional articles being shared on WeChat.

South Asians in Canada engage more with new media compared to average Canadians. 70% of them use Internet for more than six hours a week, including 25% who use for more than twenty hours a week (Source: Media Habits Study Among South Asian Canadians – 2011). Further, 60% South Asians in Canada own a smartphone versus 52% overall population.

A recent GlobalWebIndex survey showed that 42% of India’s iPhone 6 users use software to block ads on their devices compared with global average of 31%. As more South Asian Canadians catch on to the trend, multicultural marketers trying to reach out to them online, may be challenged for brand visibility and efficient marketing ROI. There are several effective ways to reach this major ethnic community across Canada that savvy marketers should consider as part of their campaigns.

It is also a good idea to partner with the influencers who have the right ethnic audience that your brand needs – people are more likely to trust recommendations of opinion leaders. If you haven’t had a chance to check out these options, it’s probably a good time to do so now.

Ad Blockers on mobile won’t kill web advertising. Quite on the contrary, it is an opportunity for all marketers to re-evaluate their advertising strategies – are they too interruptive? Successful campaigns will include a more diversified marketing approach and valuable content that audiences welcome. Trust us, it is not that hard.