As the ad tech market smiles and embraces the never-ending progress of tech advances, modifications, and upgrades, knowing your own way around the ad industry is becoming a must.
Here at Yieldbird, there is an all too familiar need to stay updated with the day-to-day cycle.
This provided the spark for new research based on Yieldbird’s Publisher Survey on publisher perspectives on video content, adblock strategies, paywalls, and their predictions for the direction the industry is heading (read more about the survey and video content).
We managed to discover how many publishers are in the adblocking business and why they’re adopting ad blocking software or specialist ad blocking services. We also learned what’s holding them back when it comes to benefitting from a paywall or being left in the lurch with their paywall onsite restrictions.
TO FIGHT AGAINST ADBLOCK OR NOT TO FIGHT, THAT IS THE QUESTION
Our Yieldbird Survey made the answer crystal clear. As the ad-blocking trend becomes more of an issue, Yieldbird asked its publishers what solutions they applied to this problem. The majority – up to 79% of the reviewed Yielbird publishers – claimed to take no actions regarding adblock users whatsoever. The remaining 21% declared to either deny adblockers access to their web content, ask users to whitelist their site, or have claimed to be supported by a specialist company/services that allow the inventory to be displayed despite an active adblock.
Similarly, a vast number of publishers reviewed by Yieldbird (approximately 47% of pollsters) who claimed to not take any action against adblock users, are not planning to actively counter ad blocking software in next 6 months.
This may be due to the publisher’s lack of awareness of the upcoming threat to their inventory space monetization and optimization strategies.
THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER YET
No matter the reasons standing behind adblock usage, 53% of Yielbird’s pollsters were reported to have been more aware of the trending ad blocking solutions. Approx. 23% declared that they plan to use services of a specialist company that allows inventory to be displayed despite an active adblock, and up to 23% will ask their users to whitelist their websites.
Yet, at some point, the battle can be only won if both publishers and users bury the hatchet. The perfect solution might be, apart from technologically advanced software, a simple loyalty pact between two feuding sides. And that might just work miracles, as much for adblocking as for paywall strategies.
ADBLOCKING UPTAKE STILL ON THE RISE
And yet, in France, Germany, and the UK, more than 43M internet users used some form of ad-block this year alone, though the global average is 18% (Sep 2016), according to Kantar TNS estimates. In Germany, for instance, nearly 30% of internet users are expected to be using adblock software in 2017.
And yet, adblock software is more widely used by younger users. Suffice to say, the tendency among adults to block ads declines as their age increases. Unsurprisingly, eMareter predicts that nearly 50% of the youngest adult ages in DE, FR, and UK will use adblock technology, yet only a quarter among adults ages 45 to 54, and fewer than a fifth of those ages 55 to 64.
A new trend has also been reported, according to which this significant number of users in the aforementioned countries is in decline when specific devices are taken into account. Surprisingly, it is the mobile market that still has much to offer the adblock industry.
To date, only a small percentage of smartphone users are being supported by ad blocking technology. The declined trend among ad blocking users, however, may come to an end the very moment any key market player comes up with an ad-blocking solution, such as the rumored Google Chrome mobile browser enhanced with a built-in blocking feature. And this can easily kindle that ad blocker frenzy.
If an in-app ad blocking solution comes to the fore, namely an easily installed mobile ad blocking solution, naturally more people are going to use it.
WHY IS THE ADBLOCK BATTLE STILL RAGING?
Publishers are in constant search of alternative solutions to fight ad blocking software. That’s just pure market economy when you get down to it. And the page-generated costs incurred have to be redeemed somehow.
Whenever a cost is shifted to the publisher’s side, the user should answer the underlying question – is that in line with the service-rendered-demands-payment rule? If so, adblock software may stand for a user’s sharp & witty method of eluding payment entirely.
And that unquestionably stands against the principles of economics. To make things more crystal clear for users, some publishers came up with an initiative to run information campaigns and educate their users about how advertisements give media more freedom and continued longevity.
Information campaign run by WP portal educating their users on the real value of ads: “Ad gives freedom to the media. Learn more why.” Source: WP.PL
WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION BEHIND ADBLOCK USAGE?
To better understand what actually drives the adblock engine, it’s essential to break down the user’s perspective into fundamental components. According to PageFair analysis (2016), there are five core reasons users are motivated to use adblock.
Firstly, it’s about possible exposure to viruses and malware, which is a reasonable threat to 30% of users. As safety reasons might be quite an issue to some, others (29%) claim that constant interruption is a the second best reason a site gets adblocked.
The remaining surveyed users blame ad-plenty sites for slower page loading times, too many ads displayed on the website, or privacy threats and possible tracking by unknown third parties, whoever they might be.
Data source: PageFair
THE TRUE COLORS OF PAYWALLS
Paywalls and paywall policies are more important for publishers than ever before. According to Yieldbird’s Publisher Survey, up to 5% of publishers have paywall solutions on their websites.
Not surprisingly, digital subscriptions now make up to 53% of the subscriptions at The Wall Street Journal, according to CJR’s research. And this is just for starters. The CNN reports that the WSJ is gradually increasing their subscriber database. The journal added 300,000 subscribers in 2016 alone.
Pay attention publishers; this is a trend to follow sooner than you might expect.
PAY OR HIT THE WALL
What is essential to understand in the first place is that paywalls should not be applied to all content available on a given website. Publishers should be aware of the benefits of partially disabled paywall solutions.
It simply allows more people through, both in terms of promotion and the opportunity to collect information. In the long run, the larger audience boosts a publisher’s ad sales. Data collection enables the publisher to sell better-targeted and, therefore, more expensive ads. Making a long story short, the use of paywall should be restricted to a number of free-of-charge views.
Also, publishers should keep in mind that users are not fond of paywalls, as they are regularly bothered to either pay for a subscription, delete their cookies, or switch their browser to display paid articles for free. That’s why some publishers allow users to read a limited number of articles by e.g. registering for the newsletter. And that helps both parties reach a happy medium, at least for awhile.
MORE THAN A SUBSCRIPTION. IT’S A LOYALTY PROGRAM
Let’s take a closer look at paywall subscribers. Those willing to take the plunge and contribute are reported to not only want the content, but they are consciously contributing to the publisher’s revenue and the cause itself. They want to support the publisher’s continued existence.
The benefits of collected user data may be essential to support publisher sales and advertising stats (as declared by 37% of publishers reviewed by Yieldbird), develop business analyses (up to 24%) or adjust website content to their preferences (approx. 39%).
By adjusting their content, publishers may increase their paywall subscribers by attracting future clients with content they’re interested in. Similarly, sales and advertising stats are more reliable in planning business strategies when using user-oriented data.
This data can show the potential direction of trending interests among readers or may prevent the extinction of digital magazines and newspapers.