Talk to anyone in this business, and most conversations eventually turn to ad blocking if they don’t start there. Tuesday, a company called Gladly will launch a new kind of ad blocker called Goodblock in beta. It’s a free ad-blocking browser extension that seeks to give consumers more control over the ads they see. Basically, consumers can download Goodblock and it works on Chrome; the team is working on making it available on Firefox and Safari next.
Here’s how it works: Once Goodblock is downloaded, all advertising is removed and consumers are prompted only to look at ads that Gladly serves them. REI, Oakley, Puma and Tom’s are among the advertisers testing ads with Goodblock. When consumers click on one of those ads, Gladly donates money to charity.
Once a day, a "Tad," Goodblock’s butterfly mascot, appears at the bottom righthand corner of the screen. Consumers can then continue to browse for free or choose to click on Tad. When Tad is engaged, consumers receive a full-screen ad from one of the participating advertisers and a “heart,” Gladly’s virtual form of currency.
Every few times someone clicks on Tad, instead of seeing an ad, they see a dashboard -- and from there, they can donate their “hearts” to the charity of their choice. The company says at least 30% of ad revenue is donated to nonprofits like SavetheChildren.org, Water.org, Human Rights Watch, Action Against Hunger and more.
The team behind Goodblock -- Gladly CEO Alex Groth and CTO Kevin Jennison -- launched Tab for a Cause in 2011 as a way to donate to charitable causes using online advertising. With Goodblock, once again they feel that “online advertising is a choice. We want to use those ad views to turn into donations for charities,” said Groth.
The ads that are shown are full-screen, static display ads that launch viewers into a new window.
“We’ve seen that consumers want more control and more of a say in what their online advertising looks like,” Groth said. With the ad blocker, consumers are getting more control and choosing to see ads when they want to see them. “Publishers can’t really force workarounds, and advertisers need to be more careful with data-sharing. We believe this will be transformative for online advertising as a whole. We’re trying to build a new kind of experience,” he added.
Jennison characterized the ad-blocking crisis this way: “I think it has come down to a user experience experience problem. Advertisers and publishers realize they have to make good ads for consumers.”
Beta tests with the ad blocker revealed startlingly high click-through rates of 15%-20%, well above the industry average. The company attributes this to the fact that consumers are actually willing to engage with the full-screen, immersive ads from their favorite brands. “It’s a different mindset than when they see a banner ad,” Groth notes.