October 16, 2017 Edgar Guillen

How to Reach out to Your Audience in an Ad-Free World


When was the last time a wild online ad appeared in your internet experience? 

I can say that, even though I don’t have any premium plans for my favorite connected apps or don’t see the logic of having YouTube Red, it’s been a long time since I’ve run into a disruptive ad.

Brands are noticing that users are willing to do what it takes to avoid the nuisance of an ad interrupting their experience. Few things are less sexy than a Geico ad plugged in the middle of your Spotify mix of Barry White.

doctor who.gif
(Not based on real life events)

If that means paying extra for a subscription service or setting up an almost bullet-proof adblocker, they will do it. Your audience is tired of overly sales tactics and flashy ads that don’t apply to them. In the previous example, I don’t even have a car to insure with duck tape, much less with Geico.

But, I digress.

Considering this panorama, marketers find themselves pushed out of the comfort zone of traditional web advertising strategies. The industry is clear on one thing: audiences aren’t looking to be surrounded by random pitches here and there. They want tailored good content to relate with brands.

You could relate to a funny character in a 30-second ad, but that’s no longer enough to get people to buy your product or service. If your competition, instead, focuses on building a relationship with your audience over time, they will leave you hanging.

So, what can you do as a marketer? Consider these elements when designing your holiday and next year’s campaigns (Because you ARE already working on them, right?)

Strengthen Your Content Marketing

The first point is pretty obvious if you’re on our blog, but hear us out.

It’s 2017, almost 2018. Now is not the time to keep dipping your toes on your content marketing efforts. Put on your snorkel and dive into it already with a robust strategic plan to reach out to your audience by generating content related to what they’re seeking.

dive in already!.gifYou can do it!

Nothing is condescending on educating your audience on all things related to making their experience with your product or service much better. The opposite is true: your target is seeking out for that type of info. And, if you’re serious about your business efforts, you have a possible connection in your hands.

In fact, I have a little homework for you: come up with a list of 20 topics related to your product or service industry in which you can educate your audience. Yes, twenty. Yes, you can do it.

Whether you decide to take these topics and turn them into readable blog posts, Pinterest-ready infographics or a killer Youtube channel, don’t forget to share it on the channels where your audience hangs out.

Good, no, GREAT social media ads

Big social media players, like Facebook and Instagram, have come up with Adblock-proof solutions for marketers. For now, they seem to be the lone rangers still standing in the fight for an ad-free virtual experience.

However, if you want to make them work for you, there are two things you have to master:

A Clear Understanding of Your Target Audience 

When was the last time you updated your buyer personas? Are they the same as they were two years ago? Probably not. When creating your ads, these platforms will ask you for demographic and lifestyle data that will determine who’s more likely to be exposed to your ad.

In here, the traditional maxim of advertising still stands: you can’t sell your product to *everyone*.

Don’t waste your costs per click on people that won’t know what to do with your company. Have a clear primary target audience and a couple of secondary audiences on the side.

Ads Made from Scratch 

In social media, reading time is extremely finite. Nobody has the time or the interest of reading your brand’s manifesto in the text of an ad. In fact, most social media ad guides recommend using up to 90 characters of text on Facebook. That is a couple of fewer letters than the previous sentence.

Also, you need to accompany it with a great-looking image that has to compete with the millions of other ones your audience sees every day, and that complies with each platform’s rules.

But, stop yourself from taking that ad you had designed for an old-school site banner and turn it into an Instagram ad. Instead pick up a brand new (virtual canvas) and think about building content crafted for each network. When you consider what your audience is looking for in each of these platforms (and yes, they’re looking for different things), your ad will be more efficient.

No matter what you do, keep this in mind: What’s going to make your ad more interesting to click on than the latest meme or your high school’s frenemy’s wedding pictures?

Biting Back with Whitelisting

In the case of media companies, and other content-focused businesses, they’ve found an alternative to combat living in an ad-free world, besides offering subscriptions. Offering (or demanding) their users to whitelist their sites to continue showing them ads comes with its share of controversy.

Some users don’t mind giving into this practice to support the site; they need to eat, after all. But, others find it to be a significant experience turn off, especially when it’s their first time using the site and don’t know it very well. In either case, you risk losing ad money or losing people that can pay for what you offer.

I, personally, am against mandatory whitelisting. But, I’m most likely to follow it if there are two things present:

  1. I know the site, and its content brings value to my web experience.
  2. They ask nicely. 🙂

No matter how badly I need to know the info you hide under that ad-filled white sheet, if you demand to whitelist from the get-go, I’m going somewhere else.

If you’re tempted to try this out for your brand, I just gave you a couple of insights to consider before making a decision. As long as you inform your users and build a valuable relationship with them, they’re more likely to stop the red button.

Picking quality, relevant ads also help. Even if you’re good, if you use networks of clickbaity ads, I’m running to the hills.


Yes, it may sound like cheating that two of the three topics on this list involve advertising. Maybe it’s because of my academic formation, but I genuinely don’t believe that we’ll be able to live in a 100% ad-free world. The trick is to take a flexible approach and be where your audience is. Don’t waste your time with flashy gif banners and focus on building the content you know they need. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *