Ad Blocking and Tackling: What 2015’s Ad Blocking Means for 2016’s Marketing

2015 was the year when an unprecedented number of users took action against the ads that slowed web pages and turned the online content experience into a frustrating game of close-that-ad. According to a PageFair and Adobe report, U.S. ad blocking grew 48% in the twelve months leading up to June 2015. That’s 45 million users—16% of the population—who just said no to digital and, in particular, mobile web advertising by downloading ad blocking applications.
With eyeballs and revenue on the line, thought leaders debated whether the ad blocking trend would destroy or save advertising. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) blamed the digital ecosystem. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) blamed themselves for having “lost track of the user experience.” (They also notably took ad blockers to task for disingenuous practices, most specifically paid “whitelists” for publishers.)
The cost of ad blocking is significant, with an estimated $781 million dollar loss for the industry. But another resonating impact of the Great Ad Rebellion of 2015 will be found in its influence on marketing investments. What will marketers do differently to navigate the digital/mobile landscape in 2016?
Revisiting advertising
Lest there is any question, ad blocking will not prompt an all-out surrender by the ad ecosystem. Some publishers, like GQ, Forbes and more recently Wired, are fighting fire with fire, by blocking users with ad blockers. But the longer term strategy is to address the issues with ad experience. Some of this responsibility falls on publishers, who determine the degree of disruption that must be tolerated to access content, as well as the ad tech landscape, where fierce competition can inspire extreme approaches to ad engagement. (To steer publishers and platforms to a more user-friendly approach, and as part of its mea culpa, the IAB introduced new guidelines that emphasize ‘light, encrypted, ad choice supported, non-invasive ads’.)
But no change can succeed unless marketers direct ad dollars to those that are innovating in favor of an improved experience. This isn’t a simple task, given that site-by-site scrutiny can work against the efficiency gains of programmatic buying, a practice that has itself been blamed for the surge in ad blocking. As such, there will also be other moves to optimize ad impact, including increased investment in emotionally-aware ads, where data is used to extrapolate insights about a user’s psychological state in a given moment. Incorporating a measure of receptivity into ad delivery could prove to be the much-needed difference between engaging a consumer and ticking them off.
Thinking beyond advertising
Ongoing concerns about ad ROI will prompt more marketers to deepen investments in other approaches. Native advertising, the modern day equivalent of the advertorial, offers a worthy complement to traditional ads. Content marketing and branded content will help brands meet the need to feed social channels. Influencer marketing will gain practitioners as marketers struggle to connect with elusive millennial audiences. We’ll also see more brands practicing corporate social responsibility and, of course, promoting those good deeds via social channels.
Each of these tactics offer a subtler alternative to the traditional advertising message. And while this can be a strength in an oversaturated landscape, there is a fine line between subtle marketing and the calculated manipulation of audiences. The FTC tuned into this, releasing guidelines to ensure consumers can distinguish native advertising from content. But marketing’s most powerful critics are the consumers themselves, which leads to the next point…
Embracing feedback—in all forms
In a world of 24/7 marketing, brands are constantly challenged to creatively and authentically engage consumers in “conversation”.  The always-on dialogue represents tremendous opportunity, but it doesn’t come without risk. Today consumers are quick to call brands out when they’ve missed the mark, even when it’s as seemingly innocuous as Red Lobster’s slow response to a shout out from Beyoncé. Success doesn’t grant immunity either, as is evidenced by the less than warm welcome REI received on Reddit following its widely-celebrated #optoutside campaign.
This vulnerability could make one want to crawl back into the safe confines of traditional marketing, but of course that’s not an option. In 2016, more marketers will have strategies in place that allow them to creatively participate in the two-way dialogue while also managing the inherent risk. This means more than having an ear to the ground; brands need a plan that allows them to quickly gauge when and how—or if—it makes sense to engage or respond. (Arby’s farewell to their consistent critic Jon Stewart is a stellar example of a brand creatively and effectively steering into negative feedback.)
It may be that consumer ad blocking is really only part of this feedback cycle— less a mass exodus from advertising than it is an aggressive critique of its current form. Either way, it is a milestone in the ongoing transition from one-way marketing, perhaps one of the last nails in the coffin. Today, consumers have more than just a voice—they control the levers on which messages they receive and when. Marketers will need to keep in mind throughout the execution of every strategy and tactic to have an edge in 2016 and beyond.

People-based marketing is key to humanizing the consumer experience

 Tim is CEO at DataSift
Cookies were once the kings of the advertising industry, but times are changing.
Once upon a time in the world of online marketing (or five years ago), every time you visited a website, a pixel would drop a web cookie into your browser. Cookies served as a tagging device to identify your computer among the millions of other users browsing the Internet, tracking your activity as you visited pages online. This meant marketers could use this “cookie profiling” to reach you via an ad exchange, or an automated pool of ad impressions. Marketers targeted potential customers based on their browsing patterns, displaying ads tailored to age, marital status, or political affiliations. When one person equaled one browser, this targeted ad model worked.
Fast-forward to now, with consumers spreading their digital time among various devices and apps. Today’s consumer is a multi-tasking, multi-talented research expert who communicates, researches and shops on multiple devices.
In fact, industry reports estimate that consumers spend an average of three hours each day on their mobile devices. For marketers, following a consumer’s journey across digital destinations and touch points is difficult. And for those marketers who rely on cookies to track your digital trail, their task is a difficult one. They must connect all the cookies across all of the devices and apps that you use. How can companies track consumer demand as well as anticipate and meet consumer needs? How can marketers best listen to customers?

Traditionally, marketers relied on pixel tracking, a cookie-based technology that uses code to anonymously follow people around the Web as they visited webpages. When a potential customer visits a page, the code drops a browser cookie. The cookie then determines when to serve ads, ensuring ads are sent only to those who have previously visited a particular site. Pixel tracking provides information on who is clicking through on ads and ending up on a sales page.
However, five years from now, we’ll look at companies that use pixel-based marketing in the same way we view someone who still has a GeoCities email address — another addition to the Wayback Machine. eMarketer estimates that by 2018, mobile will account for 70 percent of digital marketing spend. Mobile is complicated, as mobile browsers don’t support cookies. Given consumer mobility, pixels and cookies fail to connect users as they shift between their various devices.

People, and why they matter more than ever

We are moving from pixels to people — more specifically people-based marketing.
People-based marketing allows the marketer to learn – from actual humans — about an audience’s sentiments and reactions to a company’s products, performance and prices.
For example, Facebook Atlas demonstrates that there is a simpler way to enable marketers to reach people that does not involve using pixels. Atlas represents the two foundations of people-based marketing: allowing consumers to establish their identity through opt-in/log-in and accounting for consumer cross-device and cross-channel activity. Brands and agencies, with Atlas, can measure ad campaigns across screens and solve the cookie issue, targeting real people across mobile and the Web. Atlas uses Facebook’s ID (rather than a cookie) to follow a user’s journey from mobile to desktop and back.
Humans are at the core of people-based marketing, of course, and mining human data intelligence is integral to marketers understanding their audience. Human data, which includes real-time feedback from real humans, is quite valuable. Brands can analyze this information to track customer responses, patterns and trends to refine their competitive edge.
The ubiquitous nature of social media has prompted businesses to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. Recent research indicates the average American spends 37 minutes per day on social media. Also, 46 percent of web users look towards social media when making a purchase. Meanwhile, 65 percent of B2B marketers invest in social media to gain market insights.

Human marketing requires human input

The marketer’s goal has moved beyond serving ads to the same people on the same device toward gaining a greater understanding – and even anticipating – consumer buying patterns. When you consider that more than half of all site visits are not even made by people, but by bots, it’s clear active human participation is vital to successful marketing.
For example, to properly engage with potential customers regardless of device, ask their permission by requesting their email address. Urge customers to opt-in and provide product preferences so that you, the marketer, can personalize and improve the customer experience.
Brands and agencies must first understand their audience before they can build and nurture customer relationships. This “understanding” involves going where customers are (social media on mobile devices), listening, communicating the value they offer to the consumer, and enabling user control. Modern marketing is really people-based marketing and should involve choice and convenience across multiple devices. Only then will today’s marketers gain an accurate understating of their market, customer, and future customers.

TV ads increase app installs by 74%, report says

A new report has found that television commercials are great at convincing people to download mobile apps — provided they show at the right time, send the right message, and don’t repeat every time people turn on their televisions.
Fetch, the company behind this report, discovered this connection between commercials and app installs by gathering data about when their clients aired television spots and how  the rate at which people installed apps was affected. (A baseline was established by looking at installs five minutes before an ad aired.) The company wouldn’t identify studied apps due to confidentiality agreements.
Fetch said app installs rose between 56 and 74 percent when commercials aired, depending on how many times the ad was seen. This shows that “TV advertising can be the final tipping point to push potential app users to progress into their journeys to becoming app customers,” Fetch said, “because we’ve targeted the audience at precisely the time that they are more prone to installing the app.”
The company is referring to people’s habits of holding a smartphone or tablet in their hands while a television set operates in the background. Some companies have tried to take advantage of this trend by offering “second screen” apps that augment television viewing instead of hindering it; others use the giant screens to make people aware of apps they can download on the devices in their hands.
The effectiveness of television spots depends on several factors. First is when the commercials show: Fetch found that app installs rose 650 percent after ads were shown between midnight and 1am; a similar bump was seen during prime time between 6pm and 7pm. Frequency also mattered — people were most likely to download an app if they saw a commercial for it at least four times in two hours.
It’s not just that commercials drive app installs, either — these new users can also be quite valuable to developers. “For most app businesses, organic users are the highest value customers to the business,” Fetch’s head of data, Dan Wilson, said in an email. “Users acquired through TV tend to be closer to the organic users in average value than users acquired through paid mobile media channels.”
There are some drawbacks to the report. Many increases are expressed as percentages, which as I explained when Amazon touted its holiday shopping successes, don’t mean as much when people aren’t told the starting figure. It’s also not clear if these results would hold true for all businesses, or if there’s something about Fetch’s clients that makes them more likely to benefit here.
Wilson cited agreements requiring Fetch to keep company data anonymous when asked about specific companies’ increases following television spots. He did say that FetchMe, the tool used to conduct this study, is used to monitor more than 1 billion interactions each month across 100 countries. So at least we know this didn’t affect just a handful of companies during a short period of time.
People see advertisements all the time. But apparently there’s something about television sets that makes people care more about seeing an app there than they might if they saw it on a social network or in a banner ad shown on a Web page. Using a phone might not improve the television viewing experience, but having the television set provide background noise can apparently help app discovery.
What a weird world.

Goodblock, the ad-blocker for good samaritans, enters beta

There was a time when ad-blockers did what they said on the metaphorical tin: Stop advertisements from appearing while their users browse the Web. But in an increasingly crowded market with multiple tools promising to declutter websites, new ad-blockers need a schtick to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Goodblock, an extension available as a public beta, is one of those newcomers. It performs the standard function of blocking ads — that’s in the job description — but it also gives users the option of periodically viewing advertisements that give at least 30 percent of their revenues back to the charitable cause of their choice.
The actual mechanisms, which involve what the company behind Goodblock calls an “ambassador butterfly” named Tad as well as using virtual hearts as currency, is a little more complicated but that’s the gist of the extension. It’s available now for Google Chrome, and it will expand to Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari soon.
The ads themselves are static images that will take up an entire browser screen. Users can decide not to view the ads — just leave the ambassador butterfly alone! — and Goodblock will continue to block all the ads that would otherwise appear. Gladly, the company behind the app, has basically built a guilt-free ad-blocker.
“The growing usage of ad blockers is a signal that people want more control over their online ad experience. Advertisers need a better solution; simply finding workarounds to ad blockers or forcing users to pay for content isn’t a long term fix,” said Gladly chief executive Alex Groth. “Goodblock represents a radically new model for ad blocking that gives users control over the ads they engage with, and a choice in how the revenue they help earn is allocated. We want people to not only enjoy the ads they choose to see, but to feel good that their time is also helping out a good cause.”
Goodblock is an extension of what Gladly has done with “Tab for a Cause,” a tool which replaces the browser’s “New Tab” page with advertisements that support a charitable organization. Groth said that tool has given $150,000 to charities; information about where the revenues drawn by the tool go is publicly available.
The extension capitalizes on renewed interest in protecting against the intrusive gaze that supports the online advertising apparatus. Privacy is one of the main reasons ad-blockers have seen a resurgence of late — people have decided they shouldn’t have to be tracked by countless businesses as they browse the Web.
“Our number one priority is that users are in control of their ads. Some users want ads targeted to them; others don’t. We don’t currently do any ad targeting,” Groth said in response to a question about targeting ads. “If we introduce ad targeting in the future, it will be based on data users share with us for the explicit purpose of discovering products and events and brands they’ll enjoy. Unlike most ad companies, we refuse to collect or aggregate user data behind users’ backs.”
Goodblock, like AdReplacer before it, is likely to invite criticism from those who view ad-blocking as a threat to small, advertising-dependent online publishers. Yet these tools debuting within a few days of each other shows that this is likely the way forward. Businesses aren’t content with blocking ads; they want to replace them with something they, and hopefully their users, think is better.

Facebook and Apple hit snags with news publishing strategies

It’s hard enough to produce the news, but making money from it is an entirely different challenge — one that many of the largest publishers were happy to let the likes of Facebook and Apple help out with.

For Apple, it seems that publishers have yet to see any increased benefits traffic to their own sites, or any additional money generated via ads running alongside articles hosted through Apple’s News app. Ads are something of a necessary evil when it comes online publishing. While Facebook’s new publishing platform, Instant Articles, has had some success with reaching and engaging users, the ad restrictions placed on its 20 initial publishers have proven problematic.

Facebook is supposedly thinking hard about the ad regulations on the Instant Articles platform, according to a Wall Street Journal report last week. Currently, Instant Articles only allows a single large banner ad per 500 words–a far cry from the high-dollar ads that appear on publisher websites. Unsurprisingly, in a world where ad-blockers kill websites, publishers are pushing back.

Early number indicate that engagement is high and that user experience is better on mobile using Instant Articles than it is on your average mobile-friendly publisher website. Instant Articles (IA) lets publishers tap Facebook’s massive audiences faster and with better engagement and retention, but the problem is that the ad revenue on Instant Articles pales in comparison to what publishers can achieve on their own website. Without the interference of ad-blockers, anyway.

The tensions here are obvious: Facebook wants IA to do well — it wants the user experience to be stellar and for people to come to the app often and it knows that most people hate ads. Publishers want eyes on their content, but they also need ad money to sustain operations. Advertisers want to keep ad budgets low. Clearly something’s gotta give, right?

“Instant Articles is fairly new,” says Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas. “Given the benefits Facebook sees from rich media, it appeared odd they wouldn’t allow rich media ads in Instant Articles. I believe they are revisiting that point. Providing publishers with an environment that mirrors the formats generating success on their websites is a much needed change.”

Facebook’s Instant Articles product manager Michael Reckhow told WSJ that Facebook will be working with publishers to balance their advertising needs with user experience. He didn’t give much in the way of details, but Michael Jude, Frost & Sullivan’s Stratecast Consumer Communication Services Research Manager, postulates that Facebook is likely already overhauling their ad strategy.

“The balancing act it is trying to walk is one that allows enough copy to be effective, without creating, in essence, an infomercial size piece,” says Jude. “In addition, it wants to encourage volume of transmissions, since the revenue model is built on a price per push.”

Liousas echoes the need for balance: “To keep these publishers interested for the near future, Facebook has to find a balance between its needs of driving a profit and the publishers’ needs of driving near equal placement value to what is generated on their websites.”

The key will be keeping publishers interested and bringing more outlets onto the platform when IA struggles to provide the kind of revenue that mobile websites bring. Traffic is important, but it’s still ad dollars that make the online publishing world go ’round.

“Although there was a fairly robust response to IA, with 20 or so interested publishers,” says Jude, “that number has been dwindling as the experience with IA has failed to live up to more common types of advertising. Any channel form advertising content that runs through Facebook is good for Facebook, since it enables Facebook to capture part of the advertising spend.  The more advertising the better: Google built its business on this notion and Facebook is trying to find ways to emulate Google.”

Even with the ad shakeups, though, it seems unlikely that publishers will turn their backs the valuable Facebook audience that comes with Instant Articles.

“I don’t see any reason why this ad-format tinkering should cause any publishers to withdraw from the Instant Articles program,” says Forrester publishing analyst Susan Bidel. “Both Facebook and publishers at large are keenly aware that they must offer users a premium experience. Now advertisers need to step up and pay for the sort of showcase environment that premium publishers both in the Instant Article program and outside it offer them.”

While changing advertiser behavior may prove difficult, it would certainly relieve some of the tension in the online publishing industry outside of Instant Articles. Though we’re likely to see Instant Articles changing in an attempt to strike some kind of middle-ground between user experience and the ads that publishers need to survive, the evolution of IA may involve much more than bigger banners and rich media.

“This could evolve into an interactive advertising medium that combines social media, with targeted advertising and crowd evaluation, says Jude. “They are looking for the magic combination and it will be interesting to watch it evolve.

The not-so-distant future of mobile and video

Galia is COO and head of sales for Taptica.
The mobile video advertising ecosystem is headed toward a major eruption. By the end of next year, the industry will take colossal strides to combat fraud and eliminate bogus inventory, while simultaneously working to meet advertisers’ growing demand for mobile video ads. Savvy businesses will continue to buy or build platforms that allow them to offer a complete mobile video ad solution — the content, the audience, and the ad tech — and increase their revenue streams. As with any massive overhaul (and it will be massive), there will be casualties. But, the end result will be more effective and more secure mobile video advertising opportunities to help feed the already burgeoning demand.
Here’s what we know. Advertisers and agencies are scrambling to create or fine-tune their mobile strategies and to contend with the now irrefutable fact that consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices. We’ve been talking about a “mobile-first” media landscape for a while; now it’s time for marketing strategies to catch up with user behavior. Simultaneously, consumer and brand interest in video is mounting, and for basically the same reason: high-quality video is engaging. Neither mobile nor video is without its challenges, but marrying the two helps alleviate some of the issues. Video mobile ads are more engaging than mobile banner ads. Couple that with the rich data we can harness through mobile devices, and you open up video to a host of new marketing use cases. Now we can monitor viewers’ subsequent behaviors and better measure the ROI of our investments. Video isn’t just for brand awareness anymore.
Within the next few years, it’s basically inevitable that the bulk of ad buying, mobile included, will be done programmatically. Spending levels are already soaring. Programmatic buying is lauded for its benefits, which include increased efficiency, more accurate targeting capabilities, and easy scalability. But it’s also rife with fraud. According to research from the Association of National Advertisers and WhiteOps, 23 percent of video ad views are actually from bots. This is simply not acceptable. As an increasing number of brands and agencies look to embrace video advertising, they’ll clamor for more stringent regulations and better protection against fraudulent traffic. They’ll also take a hard look at programmatic trading, the practice of buying media and then reselling it for profit. In the not-too-distant future, 2016 will be the year brands demand more transparency across the board. The writing is already on the wall. BrightRoll has begun cleaning up its traffic and taking steps to educate the market about the ubiquity of fraud. AppNexus, which has been a big player in programmatic trading, made huge strides this year by working to improve the quality of its inventory, limiting media arbitrage and increasing viewability. Perhaps predictably, it’s also shifting its focus toward video.   

Mobile media consolidation

Even with the growing amount of fraudulent mobile video traffic, there is still a pressing supply and demand issue. There’s simply not enough inventory to meet advertisers’ needs. We’re going to have to rethink our definition of “premium” and become more open to running video ads in-stream and alongside user-generated content, a change that’s already underway—just look at the buzz Snapchat’s video ad product is generating.
The increased demand for mobile video will continue to drive up prices for publishers, which is part of the reason why a growing number of companies are working to buy or create quality video content. Mobile media has already begun consolidating, as content distributors and content creators realize they’re more powerful together. Look at AOL’s acquisition of Adapt.TV, a programmatic video ad platform, and Vidible, a content syndication solution for publishers. (Expect to see an increase in the syndication of quality content as one solution to the challenge of meeting expanding demand quickly.) With these moves, AOL now has the audience, content, and technology needed to offer advertisers a full-service ad solution. And don’t forget, it’s owned by Verizon, which recently announced a plan to launch its own Hulu/Netflix-like app (Go90) for streaming mobile video, and also revealed that its focus is on mobile video.
RTL Group’s purchase of SpotXchange last year and Facebook’s acquisition of LiveRail, the third-largest online video advertising management platform, are also harbingers of industry-wide change. Facebook can now extend its video ad reach beyond its platform, and LiveRail is already working to improve the quality of its exchange by cutting out providers who don’t work directly with advertisers. If they manage to improve their supply and leverage Facebook’s in-depth data, the results will be what marketers’ dreams are made of: the ability to reach their target audience via quality mobile video traffic while gaining precise insight into what type of creative is resonating.
These types of intelligent mergers will continue as the industry works to reduce fraud, improve viewability, and better harness data. These changes will punish suppliers with less-than-stellar practices, but the net result will be an industry that’s more mature, regulated, and effective. Mobile video advertising will be a no-brainer investment.

AdReplacer switches ‘obnoxious ads’ with human-curated links

Although most ad blocking tools primarily focus on hiding advertisements from websites you navigate to, that’s not all they’re capable of.
Earlier this week serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis released a Google Chrome extension that targets the sponsored content recommendations from Taboola and Outbrain, which are often displayed at the bottom of many websites. But instead of blocking those “content ads,” the extension replaces them with links to presumably superior content curated by Calacanis’ editorial team. The extension, called AdReplacer, is currently available as a free download.
AdReplacer debuts shortly after fears about an online-mediapocalypse were stoked when Apple built support for content blockers into iOS 9 earlier this year. Pundits wondered how mobile ad-blocking might affect small publishers while developers exploited, and sometimes questioned the ethics of, the opportunity.
The difference here is that AdReplacer doesn’t affect most advertisements, only those provided by Taboola, Outbrain, and Zergnet. The extension also isn’t monetized, or in other words, making money by eliminating ads that would otherwise generate revenue for web publishers. You could theoretically argue that replacing ads with something more appealing could strengthen readership on those sites. But publishers are still technically losing potential revenue, so many may not see this as much of a distinction between other ad blockers.
Sponsored recommendation companies are predictably not happy, with Outbrain’s chief exec calling Calacanis an “anti-founder” because of AdReplacer, according to a blog post from Calacanis.
“Our little ‘ad replacer’ is just a reaction to the level of aggression that publishers and ad platforms have shown to consumers,” Calacanis wrote in response to the criticism. “If you guys tone down the ads, no one will install AdReplacer.” He added:

Finally, on the moral issue, let’s be candid for a moment. Startups are a competition of ideas, with consumers as the judges. Helping consumers avoid pain (what we do) is as (or more?) valid as inflicting pain on consumers because they have no choice (what you do).

Here’s the statement offered by Outbrain in response to my request for comment:

Behind his pretty language about the best content on the web, Jason is offering up exactly what we do – personalized content recommendations based on what people are consuming. The big difference is that Outbrain’s approach has become a revenue lifeline for struggling publishers, while his approach steals the audience from some of the most loved publishers in the world, and deprives them of their revenue. We’d be highly suspicious of a service that takes users from publishers.

A spokeswoman for Taboola said in an email that the company would “like to politely decline on commenting here.” Calacanis said he would respond to emailed questions, but as of this morning none have been answered.
I did, however, speak with Contextly co-founder Ryan Singel on the matter: “To me, until [AdReplacer] becomes something that’s really widely used, it’s another symptom of a larger problem, which is that we’ve gotten to an age where publishers need to monetize and they’ve over-crowded their pages and have terrible experiences,” he says.
Contextly helps publishers by recommending stories on their own sites at the bottom of news articles. This means that, instead of sending readers to other sites — the quality of which is far from guaranteed — people are encouraged to explore content in which they might be interested from a site they’re already on.
Taboola, Outbrain, and even AdReplacer all work on a fundamentally different principle: That once people are done with an article from one publisher, they’re probably ready to abandon that website and head on to the next. The tools only differ in where those erstwhile readers are sent once they decide to click a link.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.11.30 PM

An example of the content people see when AdReplacer is enabled.

Some people might find those tools useful. In my limited experience with AdReplacer, though, it didn’t seem like most of the linked stories were all that interesting. One was about a french bulldog playing with a vacuum cleaner; another discussed what I assume was a disastrous round of “Wheel of Fortune.”
Those links didn’t seem much better than the ones displayed by Taboola on the same article. There I was told to order wine online; shown a story about a father and son who took the same picture for 28 years; another was about how young millionaires invest; and the last one was about new stuff appearing on Netflix.
Yet, AdReplacer has a slight edge — besides the stories I mentioned above, it also showed something about Hillary Clinton and another story about Howard University — but not enough for me to use the extension on a daily basis. I’d rather keep my ad-blockers enabled and find some #content in other ways.

AOL says two-thirds of its audience now comes from mobile

Media and advertising giant AOL is now seeing most of its audience — about two-thirds — coming from mobile devices, the company has shared with Gigaom. That’s up from about half its audience coming from mobile in January 2015.
Verizon-owned AOL has a large stable of high-trafficked digital properties, including the Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, Moviefone, and many more, which have a collective global audience reach of about half a billion people per month, according to comScore. And while it’s not exactly surprising that more people are consuming content via smartphones and tablets, it is significant that AOL now has the audience to support its transformation into a mobile-first company. (That’s something Facebook also recently achieved.)
The heavy mobile growth is thanks to a strategy that began over a year ago that entailed (obviously) a defocus on desktop; strategic partnerships; internal changes; and being acquired by Verizon, according to AOL global head of mobile Chad Gallagher. “There wasn’t a magic bullet, but rather this is the culmination of all those plans finally coming together. The [mobile audience growth] is a good proof point,” he told me.
The larger mobile audience may also help AOL’s new parent company Verizon (as well as AOL itself) justify the content side of the business, even though many speculate that it was most interested in AOL’s ad-tech platform. Digiday reported back in May that AOL had approached Time Inc. about selling the Huffington Post for a cool $1 billion. Similar rumors circulated about a sale of tech news leader TechCrunch, with AOL chief exec Tim Armstrong dismissing both claims and insisting the company would remain in the business of content.
As for advertising, Gallagher said the higher mobile audience adds to recent efforts to further company’s ad business. Specifically, AOL’s agreement with Microsoft to take over most of its ad sales operations back in July, and more recently, closing on the acquisition of Millennial Media. Both of those efforts should help the company better monetize its own content.
The company, however, declined to share any stats on its mobile video audience. Yet, that’s an area of advertising AOL is increasingly interested in (as is the rest of the industry), which is clear from the Go90 ad deal Verizon and AOL made with Publicis Groupe last month.