Ad blocking and anti-ad blocking is an arms race – a battle over how consumers view web pages and how publishers make money off their content. Ad-block software detects ads placed by third-party networks and prevents the website from running the script. Setting aside the debate over the ethics of ad blocking, if you're an online publisher whose main source of revenue is from ads (and you don't want to implement a pay wall or native advertising), then you're likely missing out on a good portion of income.
As of December 2016, 236 million desktop internet users blocked ads, per a survey by ad network PageFair. Another 380 million blocked ads on mobile devices.
There are a few ways to recover some revenue lost from ad blockers, although due to the continuous updating of ad-blocking software and differing consumer attitudes, there's no guarantee that you'll recover all of that revenue.
You can go the direct route of trying to circumvent ad blockers, or there are methods and services to help you regain revenue and optimize the user experience without going around ad blockers.
Bypassing ad-blocking programs can be tricky and may not always work. It depends on how up to date the service or software is (ad-blocking software is always changing and updating). It also depends on the specific plug-in visitors are using.
This method comes with the risk that you will alienate viewers who regularly use ad-block plug-ins. Viewers who notice ads on your website may update their program, download a new one that works on your site or, worse, stop visiting your site altogether.
You can sign up with networks that feature ads that bypass ad blockers, or you can have anti-ad blocking script inserted into your website's code. Two companies below tout technology that bypasses most ad-blocking software:
- ReviveAds provides you with monetizable ads that are displayed to visitors with a detected ad blocker. The service can also inform visitors to your site that have an ad blocker in place that they cannot enter the site unless they turn off their plug-in. You can also license its ad-blocking system.
- PropellerAds offers anti-ad-blocker code for its ads. The company claims that adapted ads are presented to users with an ad blocker in place. This is an optional script for publishers working with this ad network.
These ad networks claim their methods work 100 percent of the time, but the only way to be certain is to monitor statistics like visitor count and revenue over time.
There are plenty of websites and blogs that provide free anti-ad-blocker scripts that you can add to your site, which claim to completely bypass ad blockers. Try these at your own risk. Examine the script or run it by your web design team before implementing.
Instead of forcefully bypassing a viewer's ad blocker, another popular method is to optimize your advertising model and ask visitors to voluntarily turn off their ad blocker or "whitelist" your site when they visit.
The main reason viewers install ad-block plug-ins is to avoid overly intrusive ads such as pop-ups to make the web page run faster and prevent web tracking, per adPushup. Bandwidth-consuming ad scripts can slow down websites, and many users fear these scripts push malware and privacy-invading software.
There are many ad networks and even ad-blocker developers that encourage publishers to build goodwill with their audience by hosting only nonintrusive, low-bandwidth ads.
According to a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 20 percent of users who actively blocked ads on their computer stopped when their access to content was blocked and they received a message asking them to unblock ads. The organization suggests using polite messaging to ask users to whitelist their website, which, in turn, offers users a clean, user-friendly experience.
Adblock Plus, one of the most popular plug-ins, has an Acceptable Ad program that outlines what ads are nonintrusive. If a website's ads fit the program's criteria of placement and size, they can apply to be automatically whitelisted by the software. (Although, this is an optional setting for users to view Acceptable Ads.)
The companies below are services that can help you optimize your site for nonintrusive ads and engage visitors to consider allowing ads.
- AdPushup helps you optimize the user experience for visitors to your website by giving you the best ad layout for your site and ensuring ads display smoothly. The company's other service, AdRecover, acts as quality control for your ads, making sure they adhere to Adblock Plus's Acceptable Ad standards so you don't miss out on revenue. This is a paid service.
- Admiral is a software suite designed to help you recoup advertising revenue lost due to ad blocking. Its modules allow you to send a message to visitors using an ad blocker asking them to voluntarily whitelist the site while either allowing access to your website's content or completely restricting access until the ad blocker is off. It has options for recovering ad revenue through optimized ads and alternatives to ads such as surveys, subscriptions and email or social media opt-ins. This is a paid service.
Ad blocking is a complicated issue with no clear solution that publishers and advertisers are still trying to tackle. Members of these industries are working on solutions that balance profitability while providing the best user experience. Until an ultimate solution is found, there are workarounds to recover at least a portion of your lost revenue. For visitors to your website that use an ad blocker, you can attempt to either circumvent it and serve ads anyway or try to convince them to allow nonintrusive ads.