May 2016

Customers are fed up. Every page they scroll, companies butt in, making a nuisance of themselves. “If you would barge up to someone in real life and interrupt their conversation, it’s rude. People don’t put up with it. It works the same way online.” So says Frederik Clarysse, Boondoggle’s creative director.


His agency set out to recruit people who hate ads. Specifically, people who work in advertising, but still block ads. How did Boondoggle find these people? With the cooperation of three major Belgian advertising news sites, Frederik and his team created a plugin that detected adblock users and displayed a recruitment banner ad, only visible to them: "You block ads, even if you work in advertising? Then maybe you're the person we're looking for."

Customers aren’t sick of ads, they’re sick of bad ads - ads that make noise and nothing else. The results - 53 applications from 16 different countries and 6 new team members - proved that if you do it right, ad blockers hold no fear.

Advertisers should be following Boondoggle’s example. They need to look for innovative and interesting ways to entertain customers so the thought of turning the adblocker on doesn’t even enter their heads.

But how? Look at how nutritionists got mums to help their children eat fewer sweets and more bananas.

First of all, “they listed all the great reasons to eat bananas” Frederik says. But still, no more bananas were eaten.

Then, they had a flash of inspiration. “Mothers didn’t put bananas in lunchboxes because they got squished. So they invented a box to put the banana in and advertised that.” End result? Children ate more bananas. “They created something useful. That’s good advertising.”

And retargeting? “It’s a great technique, but it’s often used with very little ambition. Chasing you with the same shoe ads to sell as much stuff as possible. One could also use it to improve people’s experience or enrich their lives.”

Service, relevance and utility are always going to be important while native ads are cause for concern because they lack transparency. Ad blocking isn’t an insurmountable challenge. Digital provides critical customer understanding and has the opportunity to deliver engaging, relevant and tailored creative. Frederik concludes: “Respect and relevance are the key to the whole thing. Don’t insult the customer’s intelligence.”

Learn more about developing intelligent creative that speaks to the customer in three changes marketers can make to prepare for data-driven creative