What is AdBlock?
The internet has created many new and innovative ways for content creators to promote and showcase their talent in the form of websites, videos, and images. But one of the best things about the web is the way it has democratized access to revenue for small and medium publishers – particularly with online advertisements. Now any publisher with good content and a decent audience could put up ads and start monetizing their work.
As online advertising got more prevalent and publishers started to cram more ads into their websites, a consumer backlash began to develop. At first, it was because the ads were too intrusive – with loud audio that could not be muted, pop-ups that blocked content, and auto-play video ads that sucked up bandwidth and slowed browsers. To its credit, the ad industry as a group mitigated many of these earlier problems via self-regulation and better monitoring of ads. But of late the focus has shifted to data privacy and user security. The concern is that the ad industry has too much information on users gathered without their knowledge or permission. While the wider tech industry is starting to address some of these privacy concerns, many consumers have started to take matters into their own hands by installing tools that prevent the ads from being displayed, known as collectively as AdBlockers.
Different Types of AdBlockers
Almost all desktop and mobile browsers offer tools that block certain kinds of ads like popups and block user tracking. Some like The Brave Browser have gone further by blocking ads by default. Though Brave still has a tiny market share compared to browsers like Chrome and Safari, it is growing and offers many innovative features that could see wider adoption in the future.
Many AdBlock vendors offer browser extensions for implementing rules that the users can customize as per their requirements. These browser extensions are easy to install and user-friendly. Browser extensions are the biggest contributor to the growth of Adblock users on the web.
These prevent advertisements on a per-device basis. Although they are not very popular, they are quite useful as many users have more than one browser and these desktop applications can block ads on all these browsers at once. They are not free, rather they tend to be resource-heavy.
VPN with AdBlockers
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) with AdBlockers are quite convenient but are also costly as they require a paid subscription. VPNs have the ability to hide the activity of the users on the internet, hence it is very important when it comes to online privacy.
DNS Level AdBlocking
Adblocking can be added at Domain Name System (DNS) level in order to manage all devices at the location while stopping all advertisements from loading. It requires some fine technical knowledge to set up but it yields the biggest results. It maximizes performance when one prevents the advertisements from loading at the DNS level.
AdBlockers Vs Tracking Blockers Vs Privacy Blockers
While all these three terms have completely different meanings, sometimes the lines start to blur as the feature sets are growing and the users are getting more information about these three.
AdBlockers are specifically used to block advertisements that we can find while browsing through a website.
On the other hand, tracking blockers prevent programmatic trackers from recording any kind of online activity of a user. Most online users are not even aware that they are being tracked or their online activities are being recorded.
Privacy blockers encompass features of both of the previous blockers. It is a set of features designed to protect the privacy of the user. The basic focus of privacy blockers is to prevent third-party requests, cookies, and scripts.
Concerns Over AdBlock
Adblock Plus is one of the most popular ad blockers on the web nowadays and is available on 100 million+ web browsers. But there are dozens of alternatives to AdBlock Plus and by some estimates, these AdBlockers combined reach 600 million devices or 11% of the world’s internet-connected population. In 2015, a study by Adobe and PageFair estimated that in that year alone AdBlocking cost publishers nearly $22 billion.
News like this has created a lot of panic among the online publishers who worry that AdBlockers will cut into their revenues. The problem also calls into question the very business model of digital publishing because it creates a misalignment of incentives between publishers and their end-user. AdBlockers are good for many consumers of digital content, but they can be devastating for content creators who rely on advertisements for revenue.
In order to protect their businesses and value exchange for access control to their content, thousands of publishers around the globe use some form of AdBlock revenue mitigation. The recovery process typically involves the following steps:
- Measuring the percent of ad block users on a website and estimating the lost revenue.
- Removing negative ad experiences whose value might be offset by pushing users to install AdBlockers.
- Displaying friendly messages nudging users to whitelist the site on AdBlockers.
- Blocking the access to an AdBlocker user who chooses not to whitelist a site despite many notices or showing fewer, less annoying ads to AdBlock users.
- Recommending an alternative value exchange between the visitor and publisher, which may include donation, email signup, site registration, paid subscription, participation in the user panel, and other such recommendations.
Visitors use a whitelist where they add certain websites that are exempted from AdBlocking functions. This list can be easily controlled by the user with a click or two on a site-to-site basis.
The whitelist, also known as the allowlist, is a rundown of elements endorsed for approved admittance or privileged membership in order to enter a particular region in the computing world. These elements include electronic groups and organizations, privileged websites, and even email addresses.
Studies have shown that many users are unaware of the fact that adblocker is running on their systems blocking the ads. Many of those visitors are also willing to turn off the SAdBlocker in order to get access to their favorite websites. Moreover, users want to block annoying ads on clickbait websites while whitelisting sites that give them a more responsible ad experience.
Helpful Tools To Recover Lost Revenue
The first step in solving any problem is to measure it. There are many technological solutions to measure AdBlock users on site. One of them is to use services like DataUnlocker that are specifically designed to allow a website traffic measurement tool like Google Analytics to bypass AdBlockers. For organizations that have more tech resources, a self-hosted tool like Fathom might be worth taking a look at.
The next step is to show a message to AdBlock users asking them to whitelist the site. There are a number of plugins for popular CMS like WordPress. Most are free, easy to customize, and do a good job of encouraging loyal users to whitelist the site. Google has also recently launched a Google Funding Choice program that makes it easy to message AdBlock users.
For users who still persist in using AdBlock, it is still possible to show them light-weight ads. Adtech vendors like Block through and Admiral have built easy-to-integrate tools that accomplish these goals.
The good news is that there are signs that AdBlock usage is dropping, thanks to many publishers adopting measures similar to the ones outlined in this article. However, publishers cannot afford to let their guard down. The fact is that AdBlockers will always be present as long as we have online ads, hence any time spent in AdBlock recovery strategies is definitely worth it.