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3 Ways Marketers Can Navigate an Ad-free World

Sarah Steimer

Marketers should consider moving away from traditional advertising and closer to customers

Consumers can typically recall advertisements from their childhood; they can hum a jingle or recite a slogan. The children of tomorrow, however, may only have one ad recollection: the quiet click of opting out.

Ad-free subscriptions are on the rise, leaving traditional advertising in the dust. For some perspective, consider a 2016 estimate from CordCutting.com that suggests each Netflix subscriber avoids about 160 hours of commercial-watching annually by streaming content through the ad-free service. It’s not only television or movie content that is going ad-free. Music platforms Spotify and Pandora offer ad-free subscriptions, and operating systems such as Apple’s latest version of MacOS, High Sierra, will offer a reader mode that strips out ads. Google has also announced plans for a built-in ad blocker for its Chrome system.

Consumers are on board with giving ads the boot, due in large part to exhaustion. Although advertising has been around for decades, it feels more painful than ever because consumers’ attention has become limited, says Bob Gilbreath, co-founder and CEO of internet marketing agency Ahalogy.

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Sarah Steimer is a staff writer for the AMA's magazines and e-newsletters. She may be reached at ssteimer@ama.org or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.