Ad blockers are gaining in popularity. Fast.

You probably saw the news earlier this month that the new Apple iOS will automatically block ads in Safari, which will make ad blocking even more prevalent. Ad blocking software has been gaining popularity over the last few years as people try to escape what Matt Ingram has described as “a hellish landscape of crap and gimmicks.” A recent study from Adobe and Pagefair showed the use of ad blocking software has increased 41 percent since last year, and has cost publishers $22 billion in lost revenue.

Most of the coverage of ad blocking over the summer – and there’s been a lot of it – has focused on the looming disaster for publishers, just the latest looming disaster for an industry that is slow to act.

But forget about them for a moment.

What does the rise of ad blocking mean for brands, specifically for their marketing efforts? If you rely heavily upon digital advertising to spread the word about your brand, you have to understand that we’re at the very outset of the ad blocking revolution, and it’s only going to get stronger. It seems obvious that, as much as advertisers might want to hold back the flood, that they need to acknowledge reality and embrace a new way.

Changing your approach begins with why people want to block ads – most digital ads are useless, annoying, or both. The promise of content marketing is to create helpful, audience-focused content that your audience actually wants to consume.

While many of the skills of content marketing and traditional digital marketing overlap, the intent is very different. While digital advertising can clearly play a role in marketing the content, the key is to start with awesome, audience-focused content rather than traditional in-your-face promotional copy. Your audience – almost regardless of who they are – wants content that helps them do their job better or live their life more enjoyably; telling them how fabulous your products or services are doesn’t accomplish that.

In fact, the prevalence of these tone deaf ads is why so many people are using ad blocking software.

They’re seeking a better online experience.

So give it to them. Give them great content that they want to see, rather than obnoxious crap they pay to avoid (think about that! People are paying to avoid your digital ads!).

Content marketing is such a clear antidote to this battle between brand and customer. Rather than continuing to give your customers something they’ve quite clearly stated they don’t want, give them something they do want. Help them. Extend the olive branch.

Create and distribute great content, and you’ll never have to worry about ad blockers ever again.

And you’ll start to build a lasting, trust-oriented relationship with your customers, rather than an antagonistic transactional relationship.

Isn’t this the obvious way to go?

Image fromMarketingLand.com.