Sign for skipping adsThis is a quick break from my series on how law firm’s can cut waste from their budget. Some recent developments in browser technology have lead to my receiving questions about possible impacts on attorney marketing. The biggest impact is the fact that changes to way we surf the web will reduce the effectiveness of Google Adwords or other pay-per-click marketing.

People are increasingly being given the chance to view websites without being subjected to advertising. I’ll talk about these options in a moment, but first let’s take a quick look at how it impacts attorneys who rely on pay-per-click advertising.

Lawyers who use paid search placement typically receive clicks of two types. The first of these types are the clicks from those who go to Google, search for “my city attorney,” and click on one of the paid placements. The second type is from those who click ads placed on third-party websites. An example of this second type would be any of the various “divorce resource” websites which cater to those researching divorce information. Such sites often sell ad space to Google, via the search giant’s “adsense” program. A divorce attorney, targeting “my city” with pay-per-click, will often have ads displaying on such a divorce resource site. For those who rely on PPC (which is a big mistake) such resource sites are an important component of traffic.

People are increasingly viewing pages in “plain view” or through the filtering of an ad-blocker. Put simply, this means that they are viewing pages with the ads stripped out. People’s increasing use of the web, without ads, means that any paid placements on third-party websites are going to not be shown to such people. In other words, attorneys who rely on pay-per-click can expect their ads to be shown to a decreasing number of people.

Why do I say that people are increasingly viewing the web without ads? I say this due to recent developments in browser technology/functionality. First, while a plain reading mode has been available in browsers such as Firefox for a while now, Microsoft’s new Edge Browser (available in Windows 10) offers a reading mode which is heavily highlighted to the user and placed front and center. Given that Windows 10 switches one to the Edge browser by default it can be expected that an increasing number of people will be using Edge’s reading mode. Second, Apple recently enabled ad-blocking on iOS for its Safari browser. This will, again, lead to more people viewing the web without ads. Third, Mozilla is increasing the ability of users to not be tracked and this new functionality (available in the current beta version of Firefox) will make it harder for Google to target people with your ads (I’ll spare you the technical reasons as to why). The combination of these developments show that browser makers are increasingly moving to a web where people are less likely to view advertising.

Am I suggesting that everyone will suddenly stop viewing ads on the web? Of course not. Say, however, that only five percent of people being switched to Edge decide to highlight “reading mode” and five percent of Safari users implement an ad-block (reasonable numbers). Then that five percent of people are suddenly not seeing many of an attorneys paid ads, which can mean a five percent drop in revenue for many. A significant number.

Worried about how the changing web impacts your ability to leverage pay-per-click? Then you may want to read our article on why attorneys should avoid the pay-per-click trap. We see PPC as a horrible use of a law firm’s money, which is why we focus on organic search results for clients of our attorney website design and SEO service.