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In the week that ad blocking dominated the news, Brand Republic asked ctrlio CEO Laurence John for his thoughts on the future of digital marketing.

This week ad blocking has dominated the news. Headlines have screamed of a ‘major blow to publishers’ following Apple’s green light to an IOS tool that blocks all ads. Google is up in arms, and advertisers everywhere have asked how it will affect them.

But does ad blocking really represent such a significant threat to the future of digital marketing? The bottom line is that consumers are frustrated at being blanket targets, which is why ad blocking came about in the first place. These latest developments should be seen as an opportunity to force a positive change into digital advertising.

Apple and Google may be busy wrangling out the finer details of how ad blocking software will impact their activities. But ultimately they’re debating whether or not brands should continue to circumnavigate this latest hurdle to reaching consumers online. Despite it’s pro-consumer headline positioning, Apple seems just as interested in needling Google by super-enabling ad blocking. And therein lies the problem. Who is acting for the consumer?

Unless we address the fundamental reasons why consumers want to block online adverts from brands, the industry is simply stalling its own demise.

So, let’s turn things around. Instead of brands shouting adverts at unresponsive audiences, give people a way to tell brands what they want and when – with full control and explicit consent. At the same time, allow brands to listen and respond in a tailored and timely manner. This is true consumer to business (C2B) marketing – and it’s the future of digital.

Done properly, consumers will be able to harness their digital footprints, then use the information within to request relevant responses from brands, when needed. For example, sharing mobile phone usage to get custom deals at the time of renewal. Digital advertising will become a tailored response from a brand to consumers’ exact demands. No guessing, no tracking, no inferences.

This next generation marketing will be fuelled by real data, enabling brands to focus their advertising spend in the most precise and welcome way yet.

But action needs to be swift. The industry needs to innovate now to truly engage consumers and open up two-way conversations with brands. Unless the industry adapts, it will die. Ad blocking, combined with shrinking attention spans online, will mute the conversation forever.

Ultimately it’s down to how quickly the digital advertising industry wakes up and seeks genuine ways to solve the underlying problem to safeguard its own future.

Laurence John

Laurence has been developing, marketing and financing advanced products in aerospace, mobile and early stage venture environments for the past 25 years.