Ad_Blocker.jpgIn the past three months, mobile ad blocking app installs grew by 3X. It’s an alarming statistic for publishers and advertisers. They recognize that ad blocking’s increasing popularity has the potential to be a disruptive force for their business models that rely on reaching large audiences to drive revenue.

The debate between ad blocker companies and the advertising and publishing industries is only just beginning, and it’s heated. At the Mobile World Congress last month, a conference session turned into a contentious battle between ad blocker startup, Shine, CEO Roi Carthy and advertising executives, including Benjamin Faes, managing director of media and platforms at Google. Shine’s technology enables network-level ad blocking, and it has already signed several major telecommunications companies in Europe.

On one side of the debate, advertising execs believe that ad blocking diminishes the overall quality of customers’ mobile experiences. Faes points out that many of the most popular YouTube videos are ads. The CEO of the International Advertising Bureau calls ad blocking unethical and even immoral. He points out that there is an unspoken contract between content consumers, publishers and advertisers in which free educational or entertaining content is provided in exchange for being advertised to. He says that ad blockers violate this agreement.

On the other side of the debate, ad blocker creators argue that the popularity of their products is indicative of a long overdue need for consumers to have more control over their digital experiences. When Apple iOS 9 launched last year, its ad blocking feature was one of the top downloads within days of its launch. Ad blocker companies make the case that advertising is losing because it is no longer relevant and users find it annoying.

In the middle of the debate are the businesses that depend on advertising to increase their revenue and grow their customer base. Ad blocking technology is still in its nascent stages, but it’s already reducing opportunities for brands to reach potential customers. As businesses respond to these changes, more organizations are looking for ways to reach customers on a one-to-one level.

Regardless of your stance on the ad blocking issue, the trend is another factor driving the importance of personalized marketing the digital marketplace. Tailored offers for products and services not only results in higher revenue, it improves brand affinity and loyalty. In an Accenture survey, seventy-three percent of consumers said they prefer to do business with retailers who use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant. Similarly, eighty-eight percent think companies should give them flexibility to control how their personal information is being used to personalize their shopping experience.

There are key identity management capabilities that enable personalized customer engagement. First of all, brands need a unified view of the customer that aggregates data being collected from multiple data silos. A single view supports seamless interactions across multiple channels and devices. Secondly, real-time data sync makes it possible for organizations to act on the most current data. It enables context-driven personalized experiences, such as location-based offers or coupons based on time of day. Third, the ability to capture customer preferences is crucial for one-to-one marketing that customers welcome instead of finding invasive. When a customer can select when and how they want to hear from a business and specify which topics interest them most, advertising and marketing becomes highly targeted and effective.

With a customers’ specific consent to reach out to them in ways that improve their experience and the identity management technology to support one-to-one outreach on a massive scale, businesses can build personalized relationships that inspire customer loyalty, whether or not ad blockers are part of the landscape.

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