- There are four ways publishers can beat ad blockers and regain ad revenue: Server Side Ad Insertions (SSAI), subscription models, becoming a member of the Acceptable Ads Committee, and maintaining transparency with audiences.
- Publishers need to take existing audiences into consideration when rerouting ad blocking methods.
- Ensuring online ads are high quality is essential for publishers looking to break through ad blocking ice.
No matter how well optimised a website is, how well placed the ad inventory is and how much care has been taken with website UX, there is always one stumbling block standing between publishers and ad revenue – ad blockers.
Since their inception way back in 2002, ad blockers have been a thorn in the side of publishers and brands alike. Nearly half of internet users claim to use an ad blocker – resulting in a huge amount of wasted spend and lost revenue. With budgets tightening as the economic situation worsens, recovering that lost spend will be vital for publishers looking to continue to grow.
However, all is not lost. For publishers looking to regain revenue lost to ad blockers, there are several tactics that weaken their grip. Let’s explore these:
Server Side Ad Insertions (SSAI) are a technical workaround that helps to trick ad blocking programmes. Essentially, SSAIs let publishers place ads on-page via their CMS, weaving it into the fabric of the web page itself. Ad blockers look for signals that an ad is starting and move to block them. But if an ad is baked into a webpage they are unable to detect them.
If SSAIs are the route to go down, there is one thing to keep in mind: audience reaction. Remember, they have made a choice to install an ad blocker; they may not react positively to finding ads once again, and bounce straight off your site.
Building a wall
There are numerous subscription models that publishers can choose from, and each can recover lost revenue. From the hard paywall favoured by the likes of the New York Times or Financial Times or a more flexible option that allows paying readers to view without ads, paywalls can be tailored to your needs.
You need to take into consideration your already existing audience, your plans for growth and what other content types you can supplement it with. Find out how to build a subscription model that works for you and your audience in our deep dive into the subject.
Raising the standard
The Acceptable Ads Standard is a certification put in place by the Acceptable Ads Committee that helps publishers to white list ads that are non-intrusive. A number of major ad blocking applications – including AdBlock, Adblock Plus, uBlock, and Crystal – acknowledge this whitelisting and will allow these ads to still show on webpages. Essentially, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Not every blocker accepts these standards however, and many sell themselves on their avoidance. Smaller publishers may also be asked to pay for membership to become accredited, so it may not always be cost effective.
Education, education, education
Sometimes it is worth remembering that online advertising isn’t just a relationship between publishers and advertisers or brands – audiences are the most vital part of the system. After years of data privacy scandals and intrusive pop ups it is no wonder that many are no longer keen to be exposed to advertising online.
Transparency with your audience on why the need for advertising is vital. This could be as simple as a pop-up to any visitor using an ad blocker that explains why whitelisting your site helps you retain an important source of revenue so that they can continue to see great content.
The Coalition For Better Ads, an industry group drawn from the ranks of advertisers, publishers, and internet technology providers, advocates for better audience education as the key driver to decrease the number of consumers using ad blockers.
While ad blocking software is still available, publishers are going to have to figure out how to either avoid them, work around them or get their audiences to switch them off – or maybe a combo of all three. While, as an industry, publishers may not be as reliant on digital advertising as they were previously, the potential lost revenue will sting in the coming years.
What publishers need to remember however is that ad blockers emerged because of the consumer exhaustion with seeing inappropriate, repetitive or invasive ads. As an industry, publishers need to continue to work together and with advertisers to ensure that online ads are as high quality as possible. If we can win back consumer trust, we may banish the need for ad blockers altogether.