If you haven’t installed ad blocking software on your web browser, chances are you’ve developed some degree of ‘banner blindness’ as a result of years of internet browsing. Consequently, the ‘impression’ numbers that inflate ad rates actually mask a growing issue in the world of online advertising. It’s time for sports biz online publishers, and their partners, to have an open discussion and address the elephant in the room.

THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE NEW YORK YANKEES Take a look at this screenshot from the Yankees website. The Yankees, a global brand, align themselves with equally high profile marketing partners and advertisers, such as AT&T and MasterCard. This is an impressive display of brand strength, which is exactly what the Yankees are banking on.

“If ROI is the mansion,” says Turnkey Intelligence SVP of Research Steve Seiferheld, “brand recall is the cement foundation. It’s the combination of recalling the brand and transferring the positive perceptions of the property onto the brand that leads to lift in consideration and usage.”

THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE NEW YORK YANKEES Now, take a look at the same page in a browser running the Adblock plugin. Notice anything? Same great Yankee content, brought to you by…? The page has been stripped of the co-branding marketing partners paid for.

As Seiferheld points out, this is a problem, as “brands don’t have any return on their sponsorship investment if customers cannot recall the sponsor(s).”

In a report released in August of 2013, PageFair, an an international startup based in Ireland whose goal is to protect a free internet, identified ad blocking as a major problem in online publishing. They noted that, “based on measurements taken from hundreds of websites over 11 months, we show that up to 30% of web visitors are blocking ads, and that the number of ad blocking users is growing at an astonishing 43% per year.”

To minimize this issue, sports properties may say (and truthfully so) that online assets are only a single piece of a broader marketing partnership. I agree. However, as the correlation between the increased use of ad blocking software and the decrease in online advertising ROI becomes clearer, what can properties do to create more compelling digital assets for their marketing partners?

Like what you see from blogger Patrick Kuhlen? Follow him on twitter, and continue the conversation with Steve Seiferheld.

#####