How Publishers Can Fight Ad Block

How Publishers Can Fight Ad Block

Why you shouldn't fight ad blockers

Yes, the guide to fighting ad blockers starts with a paradox. You don't need to fight them. And it's not even about the labor-intensive and low efficiency of the effort. Banner cutters are a natural, normal user reaction to publishers' greed. An ordinary person would rather install a couple of programs than get neurosis while surfing the Internet because of pop-ups, pop-underers, teasers and other aggressive advertisements.

Johnny Ryan, founder of PageFair, an anti-ad blocking service, considers the fight against banner cutters a tug-of-war. "To get around blockers, publishers change something in the code," Ryan says. "Developers notice it and change the code, too," is how the expert explains the standoff between publishers and blocker creators.

Why shouldn't even normal publishers fight AdBlock and its counterparts? Here are the reasons:

  • The advertising monetization model is dying out regardless of the presence or absence of software blockers. The main program stands in people's heads. Because of the actions of advertisers and publishers, it is constantly improving. Users learn not to notice ads, not to believe ads, and to avoid intrusive and overloaded commercial resources.
  • Blocker programs will always be one step ahead of the fighters against them. Therefore, the attempt to block AdBlock and its analogues can be described as a sisyphean task.
  • The proportion of users who use banner-blockers while visiting websites will grow. The more aggressively advertisers and publishers behave, the stronger will be the user reaction.
  • Many anti-blocker techniques degrade the user experience. All visitors to the site may suffer because of your greed.
  • A user's reaction to a successful ad blocker is unpredictable. He may never come to your site if he sees a teaser on it that bypasses programs.

Instead of exhausting your audience's natural reaction to aggressive ads, focus on alternatives. Use a different model to monetize your content project. Develop the resource to attract more visitors. Most Internet surfers don't use banner-cutters yet, so increased traffic will increase the publisher's income.

The arguments do not convince you? Want to squeeze the most out of advertising, can't accept the fact that some blockers climb into your pocket? Read on.

Arguments for fighting blockers

One argument is enough: it's worth fighting so you don't lose revenue. This is especially true for content projects, including media outlets that only make money from advertising.

Here is one more important reason to fight with banner cutters. It has nothing to do directly with the publisher's income. If the site owner does not abuse aggressive advertising, and publishes ads that are relevant to the audience's interests, blockers degrade the user experience.

A simple example is Google's recommended content blocks. They have ads in them, but they don't serve the purpose of monetization. First and foremost, recommended content helps users find additional content on a site about a topic. If AdBlock cuts the recommended content, the user doesn't get additional information.

Do users really need the recommended content? See for yourself: on the test site, the recommendation block was downloaded 4,607 times over seven days. Users clicked on links that interested them 366 times. The CTR of the block of recommended content was 7.94%, not including clicks on ads.

Blocking blockers: tools to fight Adblock and its counterparts

As noted above, blocker developers will always be one step ahead of publishers. Therefore, you will have to fight them all the time with different tools.
Use Facebook's strategy

The world's largest social network makes money with advertising, so banner blockers are like a bone in the throat for it. Therefore, "Facebook" made even users with blockers watch ads. In order to do this, the developers of the social network implemented a code that hides ads from the relevant programs when downloading them.

Surely the creators of the banner cutters will struggle with Facebook's technology. And the social network's programmers will improve their defenses. This is the kind of tug-of-war that Johnny Ryan is talking about.

Facebook has enough resources to fight all the blocker creators at once for an unlimited period of time. The same cannot be said for most other resources, including media sites, blogs and other content projects. Therefore, they will have to use alternative tools.

But content project owners can take advantage of Facebook's ingenious tactics. In addition to blocking blockers, the social network has decided to fight the reasons why users install these programs. We're talking about irrelevant and aggressive ads.

Here are the specific steps:

  • Facebook has decided to show fewer ads so as not to annoy its audience. 
  • The social network tries to show ads in such a way that they do not distract visitors and do not impair their experience.
  • Zuckerberg's brainchild takes care of relevance, security and speed of loading ads.
  • Most importantly, Facebook has allowed users partial control over the ads they see. To change the settings, just go to "Your Advertising Preferences."

Even if you don't have a team of programmers on staff who can hide ads from blockers, Facebook's tactics will make your site better.

The strategy has one drawback. To fight blockers on your own, you'll have to constantly spend a lot of resources. And you have little chance of winning. Facebook itself seems to be losing the tug-of-war.

Ask users to disable blockers for your site

This recommendation will work for resources with a loyal audience on a regular basis. Post a request on your site or in social networking groups to disable banner cutters. Explain why you should do it.

Hey, user, why are you so cocky? On a site about boxing, a request to disable AdBlock is hard to refuse

For example, tell them that ads keep your blog independent. Promise to publish only relevant and safe ads. Be sure to tell how to disable the blocker for a particular site.
To disable blockers on your site, the user needs to click several times

You can use plugins to determine if a user has a blocker and ask them to turn the program off. For example, for CMS WordPress, use Ad Blocking Advisor.

After installing the plugin, go to the settings section. In the Notice Text field, write a message to readers who have banner blockers installed.
The banner request appears at the top of the page

Another useful plugin is Simple AdBlock Notice. It allows you to display a request to add the site to blocker exceptions. In addition, the plugin provides users with instructions on how to add a site to the whitelist. The free version supports notifications in English.

The disadvantage of the strategy is the deterioration of the user experience. Aggressive top bar is almost more annoying than aggressive ads. Visitors can get offended and leave the resource forever.

Block blockers

If you don't have Facebook's capabilities, take advantage of third-party blocker killers. Of course, you're unlikely to find effective solutions in free plugin directories. Testing of the WordPress Anti-AdBlock Script extension showed that the plugin doesn't do the job. It does not block AdBlock and AdBlock Plus.

Even if some plugin successfully blocks banner blockers today, that will change tomorrow. The developers of blockers left Facebook with a nose, and plugins for popular CMS they are one toot in general. So look for services, platforms and teams that make money fighting AdBlock and its counterparts.

Here are a few specialized services:

  • Secret Media. The service positions itself as a solution for large publishers. The cost of using the platform is not listed on the site. The developers offer to discuss business issues in person. The service analyzes the influence of blockers on the site and also provides displays of advertisements bypassing banner cutters.
  • Sourcepoint. Service helps to monitor blockers influence on the site. You can use it to offer users alternative ways to compensate for ad blockers. Sourcepoint allows you to install an animated instruction on the site to disable the most popular blockers. The cost of using the platform is not specified, the developers are positioning it as a solution for large publishers.
  • Yavli. The service measures traffic with ad blockers and helps monetize it with recommended content. Yavli is used by publishers on the scale of Business Insider and The New York Times.
  • Revive Ads. Free platform. Provides ad impressions to users with blockers, in return takes a portion of the revenue. Requires software to be installed on the server.
  •  AdRegain Chameleon. Russian speaking platform. Declares the ability to show ads bypassing blockers. At the present time AdRegain helps to bypass banner cutters only for the medium and big sites.
  • Acceptable Ads. This service deserves special attention because it is offered by Eye/o, which runs the AdBlock Plus project. The platform allows users with blockers to be shown alternative ad units that meet the criteria for acceptability.

The banner blocker strategy has a number of drawbacks. First, unless you are a Business Insider, an effective solution is likely to be too expensive. Second, the Facebook example shows that blocker developers are still stronger. If need be, Princeton University will be joined by Columbia University and Bonn University. Third, because of the overabundance of ads and information in general, user banner blindness is progressing. The major banner-blocker cannot be blocked by software methods because it runs in people's heads.

Block out the users of the blockers

Frankly, this is advice from the category of harmful. Why? Content is devaluing. The average user is being attacked every second by dozens of publishers via desktop, smartphone, radio, cell phone, and so on. Are you really publishing something so valuable, so exclusive, so useful, that subscribers will agree en masse to disable blockers for the sake of your content?

Is the warning not convincing you? Then block every fifth visitor to your site. There are effective and free tools for this task.

If you use WordPress, install and activate the Block Adblock plugin. In the settings, toggle the Display Close Button and Close Message Automatically checkbox to No. In the Message Type menu, select the Full Screen option.
To make the lock disappear, you'll have to disable the blocker

Full blocking for every fifth user will kill your site sooner or later. If you do want to displease the banner blockers, enable the option to close the blocking window or automatically deactivate it within a few seconds in the plugin settings. However, even milder tactics will primarily affect you rather than ad blocker users.
This tactic was used by Forbes. The publication's website did not die. What's more, 44% of users disabled ad blockers in order to access the content. If the scale and authority of your site is comparable to Forbes, take a risk.

Use ads that are invisible to blockers

This recommendation may work situationally, but don't rely on it in the long run. Blockers may not notice certain ad publishing tools today, but there's no guarantee the situation won't change tomorrow.

Use Relap.io. The brainchild of Princeton University, Perceptual Ad Highlighter does not block ad links in the recommended content block.
For now, the program skips so-called native ads in Relap

AdBlock and AdBlock Plus partially block ads in recommended content blocks. The text of the announcement remains visible and clickable, but the image from the ad link disappears.

Pay attention to the Google AdSense recommended content block. Perceptual Ad Highlighter does not consider them as ads, despite the publication of advertisements. But it will mark the usual AdSense ad units. AdBlock and AdBlock Plus block the widget of similar publications from Google.
The smart program doesn't consider a block of recommended content to be an ad

Experiment with affiliate programs. For example, Amazon's affiliate program is not flagged by Perceptual Ad Highlighter. But the more popular AdBlock and AdBlock Plus hide the Amazon widget.
Convert banner cutter users in alternative ways

This strategy is best described by the adage "at least a fleecy sheep". It's simple: if the user does not want to see ads, you should ask him to do something useful. For example, to subscribe to a mailing list, fill out a questionnaire, or at least share a publication in social networks.

To implement the strategy, you can use the tools you used to ask users to disable blockers. For example, install and activate the Ad Block Detector plugin. In the plugin settings, select the Add New Shortcode tab. Add text asking users to share the post or perform another action.

Try to negotiate

Popular blockers don't block all ads by default. They leave users with access to ads that meet the eligibility criteria. These are identical with AdBlock and AdBlock Plus.

If the ads on your site meet the eligibility criteria, apply to have your site whitelisted. To be added to the whitelist that AdBlock software uses, fill out and submit an application. AdBlock Plus uses the same whitelist, but asks users to fill out a separate form.
Blockers consider only text-based formats of contextual advertising acceptable. Site owners claim that they lose more as a result of abandoning graphic ads than they gain by adding a resource to the whitelist.

You need a happy medium

Ad blockers did not appear from scratch. Because of the greed of publishers and advertisers, people needed tools to protect themselves from aggressive ads that literally jump out at the site visitor from the monitor. Aggressive banner-cutting won't help publishers. It will simply force the developers of AdBlock and its counterparts to improve their algorithms.

What should publishers do? Take pills from greed and beat yourselves when you want to put a pop-up or pop-under on your site, put ads in the content, and surround yourself with teasers of Malysheva. When the pills kick in and the ads on the site don't make you want to spit in the monitor, politely address your audience and ask them to disable blockers on your site. The request should not degrade the user experience.

If you offer your audience interesting content, chances are some users will whitelist you. Forbes' example is inspiring.

But don't be fooled. The main banner cutter can't be turned off by users at will. It works on a perception level. And it exists because of the excess of advertising in the information space. Unfortunately, the situation can only get worse. So think seriously about alternatives to the advertising model of monetization.

Two words for those on the other side of the playing field. The complete blocking of advertising on the Internet by users also leads nowhere. If publishers lose ad revenue, they will lose their independence or be forced to charge per page view. Would you pay to update your Vkontakte status or read a blog paid for by a large corporation? The question is rhetorical.

What should you do? Configure your blockers so that they do not block acceptable advertising. Whitelist your favorite sites. Believe me, you won't notice unnecessary ads without special programs.