In a previous blog post, I discussed the impact of ad blockers on user experience and how ad blocking has made publishers more aware of the impact of poor-quality ads on their audience. In this blog post, we explore the measures publishers have taken to mitigate the impact of ad blocking and whether ad blocking can be circumvented.
There is a legitimate and clear user desire to not see unwanted and annoying ads such as ones that take over their browser. However, ad blockers serve as a “blunt instrument” - while the user desire is to block the unwanted ads, the ad-blocking software ends up blocking all ads.
The real dilemma is to maintain the revenue generated through advertising while respecting the user’s wishes.
This reduces the ability of publishers to monetize and offer a delightful and secure user experience with premium content. The real dilemma is to maintain the revenue generated through advertising - an economic necessity for publishers - while respecting the user’s wishes.
Ad blockers disrupt the fundamental value exchange amongst advertisers, publishers, ad exchanges and consumers. Let’s take a look at how publishers have responded to this disruption.
Publishers have been trying to figure out various ways to combat the loss in ad revenue caused by ad blockers. Here are a few ways publishers have responded:
A study by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that 54% of users would turn off ad blockers if it was the only way to access content.
The world’s largest and most successful internet companies are reportedly paying money to ad blocking companies for whitelisting their ads. Many in the industry refer to this as “extortion.”
AdBlock Plus is in the business of taking some of the revenue that publishers should earn and then “diverting it into their own pockets".
Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the IAB says, “I have no argument against anybody using ad blockers, because there is a kernel of right when it comes to the impedance of user experience. But as I’ve said before, this is an extortion-based business and hurts publishers.” Rothenberg also noted that AdBlock Plus is in the business of taking some of the revenue that publishers should earn and then “diverting it into their own pockets.”
AdBlock, one of the most widely-used ad blockers, says they have an “acceptable ads” criteria that allows 90% of websites to be whitelisted for free. However larger sites that see more than 10 million impressions from whitelisting have to pay through a revenue-share agreement, giving AdBlock 30% of revenue generated from ads.
Not only are ad blockers decreasing ad revenue, they are also blocking analytics tags and cookies that are used by publishers to understand customers and their behavior. Without analytics, companies have a hard time providing a personalized experience to their customers and collecting data to make better business decisions.
E-commerce companies that rely on cookie history, location, and page visited data need this information, which in turn provides users a better experience with customized content. Without this key information, the user may experience a dip in shopping experience, resulting in less revenue for online retailers.
Are there solutions to help publishers? The answer is “yes.”
Are there solutions to help publishers? The answer is “yes.” Technology is being developed to obscure the pattern recognition that ad blockers use to determine that something is an ad. Of course, this needs to be used tactfully by allowing high-quality ads that will enhance, rather than detract from, the user experience. If done correctly, such technology can deliver an ad-light experience, respecting the wishes of the user.
My next blog post in the series will focus on transparency of metrics and ROI within the ad ecosystem.
This article was originally posted on Instart Logic — a provider of a ‘block the ad blocker’ solution that restores digital ad revenue to premium web publishers. In the coming weeks Shailesh Shukla will continue his writing on the subject of ad blockers.
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