How to Tackle the Ad Blocking Challenge?

how can publishers tackle the ad blocking challenge

This report will help you understand whether this could be the end of ad-funded internet.

Why is adblocking software used on a rising scale? Because ads popup, blink, slow down page load times or add to the cost of a mobile data plan and that interrupts the user’s online experience.

There are a couple of approaches that might (and should) be implemented by publishers to react to the risk of being adblocked.

What is adblock for?

Simply put, adblock (or adblocker) is any piece of software designed to remove annoying ads from websites. Adblockers usually come in the form of a browser extension or a separate downloadable app. The usage of adblockers is on the rise for a variety of reasons.

Online ads flash on screen, play sounds, slow down page load times, and add to the cost of your mobile data plan. All of these interrupt the online experience for many users.

What’s the problem with adblock?

Adblocking claims to strive towards helping users against ads, ads  “which cost bandwidth and compromise privacy.” Yet, Adblock has been reported to have launched their own ad exchange to sell ads.

The power of blacklisting

Today, it’s up to adblock users to determine which types of ads to block and which publishers will be affected. There are several free blacklists available that can be added to an adblock plugin, which makes using them even easier.

Once adblock software is activated on a page, there usually aren’t any gaps or any redundant space left where the ads should have been displayed. This means that after some time, users might even forget how their favorite websites look with ads.

For now, it’s the user who has to initiate the process of installing and setting up an adblock plugin/app. In many cases, this is caused by the overwhelming experience of annoying ads on newly visited sites. And on pages users are familiar with, one new annoying ad can be enough reason for the user to use adblock.

Who is blocking ads?

One-quarter of Australians use an adblocker, says IAB Australia research. Similar research conducted by IAB UK shows that UK publishers lose nearly £3bn in revenue annually due to adblocking. The UK has one of the highest rates of adblocking worldwide, with over a third (39%) of page views blocking ads, resulting in a loss of more than £2.9bn in publisher revenue in 2017, according to report by

Could this be the end of ad-funded internet?

Adblockers pose a threat to the idea of online content being funded by ads. According to the #IABUK, research has found that more than half of web users in the UK do not understand that being exposed to advertising online allows them to enjoy content and services at little or no cost. Without advertising, digital content and services may disappear or consumers may have to pay for services (such as email) that they currently receive for free.

The industry is aware of the increasing number of users blocking ads and is trying out new countermeasures to fight back. One of these is crowdfunding, a means to support the production of new videos and articles with the use of platforms such as Patreon. Another is to implement paywalls, which allow only paying users to access the site’s content. Both are lacking in numerous ways, mainly because users are already accustomed to getting information online for free.

Is there a sustainable response to the challenge of ad blocking?

So how should publishers react to the risk of being adblocked? There are a couple of approaches that might (and should) be implemented.

First, publishers must invest time and effort into providing their users with an uncluttered and quality user experience. Ads should (if possible) be an enhancement of the content on the site. Users must see only ads relevant to both the article/video and their interests. On the other hand, the ad format must avoid being annoying – a simple display is better than blinking GIFs, for example. Or when it comes to videos, a muted and skippable video that automatically plays when clicked is better than a non-skippable and immutable in-banner video, hiding somewhere on the page. Ads like that make users leave pages altogether.

Once that is done, the publisher can incentivise users to turn off their adblocking. This can be done by employing adblock detecting software to communicate the effects of using it. A simple explanation of how this affects publishers, reminding users that ads fund the content they love, stating a commitment to the user’s experience, and asking them to turn off their adblock can be enough sometimes. For example: “These ads pay for our content, so please disable your adblocker. We’ll make sure you won’t need to enable it again.”

These and more solutions and insights into the adblocking challenge can be found in the ADBLOCK report by Yieldbrd.

Bartłomiej Oprządek

Karol Jurga

Chief Revenue Officer

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