Cohabiting with Adblockers

Posted by Oscar Bole on

The popularity of Ad Blocking Softwares


Online advertising supports valuable free content, robust journalism, and social connections across the internet. However, frustration from users towards ads is growing, as they disrupt their experience, interrupt content, and slow browsing.

42% of internet users aged from 16 to 64 years old use an adblocking tool at least once a month. These ad block plugins are most common amongst Google Chrome users. With almost half of the world’s users feeling a need to protect themselves from unwanted ads, adblockers are a growing minefield that publishers must learn how to cohabit with. Video ads automatically played, disruptive ads that pop up, and blinking ads are the formats that drive adblocker adoption the most.

In this article, we will share some of the most effective workarounds for publishers to recover revenue from adblockers.


Acceptable Ads

Let’s say that a user equipped with an adblocker is visiting your website. The software will prevent most ads from being displayed to the user, but not all the ads. For instance, the most common adblocker, Adblock Plus, considers some ads “acceptable”. These acceptable ads are defined by a specific set of criteria that will ensure, among other things, that the ads being displayed are not disrupting the natural reading flow of the content in any way. Like in the example below:

Ads are eligible to this special category as long as they do not use third-party cookies and comply with the Do Not Track policy. Ads served by the domain owner itself are considered acceptable as well.

Depending on your size, you may need to pay a membership to the Acceptable Ads Committee to get whitelisted. Once you’ve made it on the whitelist, you will be able to serve the Acceptable Ads to your users that are using an adblocker. A minority of adblocking softwares prevent all ads from being displayed. But the Acceptable Ads standard remains a very effective workaround to recover revenue from adblockers.


Server-side Ad Insertion (SSAI)

Server-side is one of AdTech’s hot topics. As they seem to be a very good alternative to most challenges publishers face today and in the coming years. SSAI allows publishers to stitch the video ads at the CMS level instead of the browser level. This technique combines the video and the ad into one single stream. This will prevent the adblockers from spotting and restricting the ad. This is not a new technique but it has gained popularity with the rise of adblockers.

The traditional techniques stitch the ads with the content on the browser level, and adblockers are programmed to spot all the ads coming from this stream. But as they are browser extensions, it is much more difficult for them to take action on the server-side.

SSAI’s was not originally designed as a workaround for adblockers. At first, it was a way to avoid some issues with video advertising. For example,  cases where the ad was loading but the actual video wasn’t could occur. SSAI offered a very good fix to this problem among others.


Educating your Audience

Another highly recommended best practice when it comes to adblockers is to be completely transparent with your audience regarding why you are using advertising. Explaining to your user why you need advertising through a pop-up where you are asking him to whitelist your website in his adblocker will allow is truly effective. In most cases, the user will indeed whitelist your website. Although it is true that the pop-up might affect the user experience, you will only be requiring this action once.


Paywalls / Subscription

The majority of the content you will find on the internet is free. But some publishers do request payment to access their content. These paid subscriptions are a very natural way of countering the ad blocker issue for publishers. In a way, they are similar to CMPs in the sense that the publisher is empowering the user with a choice. As long as you provide exclusive, high-quality, ad-free content, some of your users will pay for it.

Paid content is also a powerful vector that increases the average revenue per user (ARPU). Users value highly the content. Paid subscriptions offer a good alternative to advertising revenues for publishers.  Furthermore, many publishers have opted for a hybrid solution.  They let the user choose between free content with ads or a paid ad-free experience. Like in the example below.


Coalition for Better Ads

Given that one of the primary reasons people are deploying ad-blockers in rising numbers is due to “poor” ads making websites slower and harder to navigate, if the advertising industry can block disruptive ads, then users might decrease ad-blockers usage.

An approach is being advocated by the Coalition For Better Ads, an industry group drawn from the ranks of advertisers, publishers, and internet technology providers. They are looking to reform industry practices by banishing the most intrusive ads describe at the beginning of our article.


As long as adblocking softwares continue to gain popularity, publishers will need to come up with new creative ways to compensate for that loss. There are already many alternatives to recoup on that loss. It is very likely that the adtech community will come up with some new techniques and workarounds in the future. We created Adblockers in the first place to protect users from intrusive and distractive ads. The adblocker trend is a result of the industry’s need for higher-quality ads.



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