Are you #Adlergic?

Back when I was a kid, you couldn’t avoid ads. They were in the newspapers, magazines, on radio and TV. Just talking about TV, not only was there no PVR/DVR for recording shows and then fast forwarding through the ads, most of us didn’t even have remote controls! You had to actually get off the sofa and change the channels or turn the sound down. So we watched ads…lots of ads.

In 2017, technology has made it easier for some percentage of the population to avoid some kinds of ads like never before. It isn’t everybody, but I think at least 10% in North America and over 5% in Europe would engage in more than four of the nine behaviours listed below. Take my #adlergic checklist for yourself now:

  1. Do you subscribe to Netflix, Amazon or equivalent SVOD service, and at least in part because they are ad free?
  2. Do you use an ad blocker on your computer?
  3. Do you use an ad blocking app or operating system on your smartphone or tablet?
  4. Do you subscribe to a streaming music or video service…and pay the premium for the ad free version? (There are ad free versions of Spotify and YouTube.)
  5. Do you use a PVR/DVR for half or more of your traditional TV consumption, and skip most of the ads?
  6. If you don’t use a PVR/DVR, do you usually change channels, mute the sound or leave the room during commercial breaks?
  7. When you are in the car, listening to the radio, do you switch to another station if an ad comes on?
  8. Or pay for satellite radio such as Sirius, which is ad free?
  9. Or listen to a radio channel (such as CBC/SRC in Canada or other Public Sector Broadcaster), because it is ad free?

This is something I am thinking about for a 2018 Predictions topic. As far as I know, I invented the term #adlergic in Vancouver at a client presentation on January 16, 2017, and then used it in public that night at the big launch. I like the concept: the more ads we eliminate from our daily media habits, the less we tolerate the ones left. This suggests that the number of people who are allergic to ads is likely to grow over time! I have some other thoughts:

  1. The percentage of people who strongly try to avoid ads is much higher in North America than Europe. Our TV ad load is much higher: US TV ad exposure is 5X what someone in the UK would see! We are more burned out.
  2. I suspect that younger people are more likely to be #adlergic than older.
  3. I also suspect income plays a role: if you have more money it is easier to avoid ads, either through premium ad free versions, or owning a PVR/DVR.
  4. I also suspect the percentage of the overall population that is #adlergic is MUCH LOWER THAN PEOPLE IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY THINK! People in the industry are some of the worst offenders when it comes to avoiding ads, and it is a kind of filter bubble. We believe that almost everybody skips all kinds of ads all the time, but I have a hunch that it is still pretty rare across the population as a whole. Likely about 10%, and almost certainly not more than 20%. (Don’t get me wrong: almost everybody probably indulges in one or two ad skipping patterns of behaviour. But relatively few do it across more than half of their various media consumption channels.)
  5. Advertisers know about this trend. Nobody closes their eyes while driving, so billboards and other out-of-home advertising still works. People still go to football games, which is why the stands, the turf, the ball and the players have ads all over them. Even #adlergic people use Facebook, and seldom install mobile ad blockers, which is why mobile social advertising is such a fast growing category.

Send me your feedback. What do you think this means? Are there any other kinds of ad avoiding behaviour I have missed?

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One response to “Are you #Adlergic?”

  1. Max says :

    Hi Duncan,

    These are great points. Going through the checklist above, the ones that I don’t mark as “N/A” (mostly because I don’t have a TV subscription) I’m at the 75-80% “Applies to Me” category. Another to add is the annoyance of being put on a mailing list to get access to some free document / downloading an app and creating the account.

    I’m on a personal mission to unsubscribe from 90% of newsletters I’m on.

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