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The only people who like ads are the people who make money from them.

Everyone else does everything they can to avoid ads. In fact, Marketing Land reports that there are now 198 million active users of ad-blocking software, which is up from 21 million users in 2009. Approximately $21.8 billion in ad revenues were lost as a result of ad blocking in 2015.

That’s a whole lot of money and a whole lot of missed opportunities for brands. But for customers, that meant much better user experiences across the board.

Apple now allows iPhone users to download ad-blocking apps, and some believe that in-app ad blocking will soon be introduced.

Ad blocking in 2016 is only expected to grow. If brands want to continue to reach their target customers — and if other brands want to continue to make money on ads — they need to pay attention and develop strategies that will make everyone happy.

Native Advertising

More marketers will be looking at native advertising to beat ad blockers in 2016.

Native advertising can include sponsored posts, reviews, and other editorial content that looks like the other posts on the site. According to a study conducted by Grady College in Georgia, the majority of consumers can’t tell the difference between a site’s editorial content and its sponsored content.

Companies can still capture the attention of potential customers with these sponsored posts.

In addition to sponsored content, native video advertising will also be big. Video itself has been gaining ground for years, and brands have seen for themselves that it is a great way to reach customers.

However, marketing experts warn that brands need to be mindful of using native advertising so that they are creating a quality user experience. Videos should not just be commercials, and sponsored posts should not just be a long advertisement in text. Otherwise, consumers will become annoyed by those ads and learn to avoid them, as well.

Where that need arises, new ad blockers will be created that can weed out native advertising also.

Focusing on the User Experience

Overall, brands are being advised to keep the user experience in mind when creating any type of ads.

That means creating ads that load quickly and do not drag down the site performance. That also means creating ads that are unobtrusive and that are designed to engage customers.

Brands like Geico have shown how that’s possible by creating funny, viral ads that get customers talking.

Whatever ads you create, they should be either informative or entertaining for customers. They shouldn’t make customers annoyed or want to avoid the site.

Social Marketing

More advertisers are expected to spend time on social media in 2016 also.

However, Facebook and Twitter won’t be their destinations of choice as they have been in the past. These sites have become advertising heavy and are subjected to the same ad-blocking software as other websites. They have also enacted changes that make it very hard for brands to gain visibility without paying for likes and views.

Instead, more marketers will be turning to image-heavy sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat to promote their brands in 2016.

Rather than hosting ads on these sites, brands are creating a presence on them that engages customers. The goal is to create top-of-mind awareness and to drive customers to their sites, not necessarily to make an instant sale.

However, there are many ways to directly advertise on the sites, such as pinning products on Pinterest or advertising flash sales or contests with photos on Instagram and Snapchat. Video can also be shared on the sites.

Again, the push is toward more native-style advertising that is designed with the user experience in mind. Anything that smacks of a traditional advertisement is likely to be ignored and ineffective.

Demanding More

Brands are also expected to demand more from their advertising in 2016.

Brands are expected to ask for more data about where their ad dollars are going and what kind of results they are getting. They want to make sure that their “views” are from real people and not from bots.

There is also expected to a “flight to quality.” Brands will be more choosy about where they spend their advertising dollars and will be focusing on high-ranking sites that attract their target demographic.

Brands may spend more for this quality, but they will expect to get real results.

Ad-blocking software will get savvier, creating more obstacles for advertisers. It is important that brands stay ahead of the curve if they want to reach their target audience. The Digiday WTF Ad Blocking 2016 conference will explore these and other issues to help brands figure out the way forward in this new advertising environment. Check out the link on our site for more details and to register for the conference.