There is much discussion in the industry about digital transformation and nearly as many different views as to what it means. Personally, I think Salesforce sums it up best calling digital transformation as the process of using digital technologies to create new, or modify existing, business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.
For me, customer experiences (CX) are the new battleground. A year ago, an article on virtu.com cited a Gartner report that more than two-thirds of companies say they are competing mostly on customer experience and that in 2020, they expect that number to rise to 81%. In addition, Accenture stated that CX “has emerged as the key driver of sustainable business growth.” They suggest that even a single point increase in CX scores can result in millions of dollars in annual growth.
It’s clear that for digital transformation to succeed requires constant monitoring of customer satisfaction, capturing in-depth knowledge of customer engagement and levels of trust. In other words, it’s not only a question of reaching customers. It’s about learning from their experiences, their likes and dislikes and applying digital transformation strategies that meets or exceeds these customer needs.
But there’s a monkey wrench in the works of digital transformation, ad blocking. Whether B2B or B2C, one of the most critical ways brands promote themselves and drive revenue is through advertising and for mainstream publishers, advertising is their primary, and in most cases, only source of income.
The Impact of Ad Blockers on CX Digital Transformation
In a recent special report on brand trust by Edelman they offer a series of brilliant customer related stats including the impact the pandemic is having on customer behavior, they highlighted that nearly 7 in 10 customers have found ways to avoid advertising, and that this trend is growing rapidly. The most prevalent of these is the use of ad blockers.
If in 2021 your digital transformation strategy puts your customers at the center of everything you do, then how can this possibly be successful if 70% of your target audience is trying hard for you to even reach them, and half are doing so using an ad blocker.
In previous blog postings, I have called out that despite the rapidly growing expenditure on digital advertising; its effectiveness has rapidly diminished as has advertiser ROI, in large part due to ad blocking.
Missing Crucial Data
There is another important factor about ad blockers that has a major impact on digital transformation. The term ad blocking is a misnomer. Ad blockers negatively impact every website whether ad centric or not. Ad blockers don’t just block ads. They impact and block a myriad of other web based applications and services including, analytics products including Google and Adobe Analytics, attribution software, tag management software including Google Tag Manager to name but a few.
For example, ad block visitors to a website using Google Analytics will be invisible to GA. Needless to say, based on the significant proliferation of ad block users seen above, that this has a profound impact on any digital transformation strategy in that it is missing information about a major subset of those visitors. The same holds true for almost all 3rd party services.
Pointers For Your Digital Transformation Strategy
Today customers are in control of their digital experiences and have become increasingly intolerant of technologies that forces annoying or intrusive ads on them and their being tracked by companies capturing their personal data. So digital transformation strategies need to take into consideration that content and privacy are both sides of the same coin.
At Adtoniq, we know that ad block users won’t give up their ad free experiences unless brands and publishers change their outdated strategies. It requires a change in thinking and action, recognizing that their customers and prospects now have the power to decide what is acceptable for them and practices that will not be tolerated by them. This change in thinking and attitude opens the door to progressive digital transformation strategies that respects customers, builds trust, leading to growth in reach, engagement and revenue. This is even more critical in a world concerned by the pandemic, in which commerce and brand budgets have shifted largely to the digital space.
We have proven over the past two years from working in the world of ad blocking that giving customers control and asking for their permission really does work. A contextual, people-based approach using real insight to personalize content and frequency of advertising will be key to successfully gaining permission, ensuring that businesses stay focused on the needs and sensitivities of customers. This should be front and center and foundational for any digital transformation strategy.