How Ad Blockers Make You a Better Marketer

Filed in B2C Marketing, Customer Experience, Featured Posts on September 22, 2017 by

No one wants to deal with irrelevant pop-up invaders taking over their screen, that’s why ad blockers are some of the most popular apps and extensions.

HubSpot’s report on ad blocking confirms what we already feared:

  • 48% of people strongly believe online ads are more intrusive.
  • 51% of people really hate pop-up ads.
  • 56% of people think online ads are insulting to their intelligence.

By 2020, ad blockers alone will wipe out about $35 billion of lost revenue … annually. Ad blockers have caught many marketers by surprise, but they shouldn’t have. We’ve been in the Age of the Customer for a while now, and tools that give control to the customer are becoming ubiquitous. Despite efforts to make ad blocking illegal, the future will be filled with smarter, faster, and better ad blockers and more sophisticated (and demanding) users.

Your captive audience will be harder and more expensive to grab. It isn’t hyperbole to say the rise of ad blockers is an extinction event for digital marketing, but one already critically endangered species is finding a way to adapt and thrive in this new era: brick and mortar retail.

ad blocker graphic

Omnichannel > Ad Blockers

The overwhelming reason for using ad blocking software isn’t shocking: people want to enjoy the Internet on their terms. Intrusive ads destroy the customer experience. Smart marketers are turning to an omnichannel experience that brings a consistent message across all channels. Omnichannel marketing is an ideology, not a marketing play. It is delivering a consistent, customer-first experience across devices, channels and touch points. It is the antithesis of one-size-fits-all marketing.

The Harvard Business Review reports retail customers that experience omnichannel marketing spends 4% more on every shopping occasion, 9% more when shopping in-store and even 10% when shopping online. They’re also more loyal, with 23% more repeat spending. The takeaway: when you play by the customers’ rules, you win.

The HBR report is based on brick and mortar retailers adapting to the rise of online shopping, and some of their campaigns are incredible (looking at you Bonobos), but omnichannel marketing works for any industry. Here are some simple, low-cost/ high-impact examples of an omnichannel experience that doesn’t require an agency to pull off.

Finance and Wealth Management

Suppose you’re marketing for a wealth management company. As part of a partner promotion, you want to drive card members to a travel site where destinations are being auctioned every day. You want to combine email and retargeting ads with physical outreach and still be able to connect the dots between each touch point in the customer journey.

How You Do It

You use tactile marketing to reach beyond digital channels. You send high-value, premium cardholders high-impact direct mail: branded fortune cookies with your message inside. The direct mail is tracked and delivery confirmation (even at scale) is stored in your marketing automation platform, providing a trigger to enter the customer into a nurture stream within a few days of delivery confirmation.

financial services direct mail example


You want to welcome new customers to your provider network, but you have to navigate a maze of compliance law. You send a welcome email but have a segment of customers without email addresses on file. You need to bring them online while delighting them and remaining compliant.

How You Do It
Your marketing automation campaign listens for the email bounce and automatically triggers the send of a physical welcome kit. CRM data populates the member’s name, effective date and plan details in the letter. The appropriate Summary of Benefits Coverage is also automatically included in the kit along with a CTA to get the member to update their email.


A customer has an abandoned cart filled with unpurchased women’s apparel. You already use digital retargeting ads, but you want to go one step further and get her back on your site to purchase that order.

How You Do It
Send a package to her address (which was captured when she started her order) that includes fashion “recipe” cards that feature images of her unpurchased items. Seal the deal with a discount that drives her back to her shopping cart to complete the purchase.

Tactile Engagement, Digital Insight

Ad blockers are popular because they protect consumers from annoying marketing that ruins the customer experience. Direct mail circumvents ad blockers but unless it delivers real value, it ends up in a landfill. Personalized direct mail that is triggered based on user behavior, so it shows up when it is wanted (and needed) will drive results, but a one-size fit all approach is rarely impactful.

Omnichannel marketing is also about connecting touch points for marketers. Offline action must drive digital insights and vice versa. This web of interconnectivity is the data-centric model for modern marketing, and that’s the hidden benefit of omnichannel marketing that is letting some brick and mortar stores thrive.

Here’s our pitch: PFL offers solutions that let you add tactile engagement to your campaigns. We help connect touch points from offline to online channels and give you the power to create effective, evergreen omnichannel campaigns so you can thrive.

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