Facebook has been in a pitched battle with ad blockers for more than a year, mostly keeping the upper hand against ad-blocking software, which otherwise reduces advertising revenue by 5% to 15%.
Traditional media companies, however, do not have the same resources Facebook has to fight ad-blocking software, which blocks ads and demands publishers pay to be exempted from blocking.
Understanding Why Consumers Install Ad Blocking Software
It’s important to note that consumers adopt ad blockers because of a small number of bad actors on the internet that deliver abusive and annoying advertising. We’ve all seen it -- pages that pop up and cover content we want to see, video ads that automatically play, and ads that won’t let you click away.
Media companies of all sizes are seeing 3% to 20% of their revenue evaporate as more consumers adopt ad blocking software. According to a new analysis of more than 100 million web users by Instart Logic, nearly 30 % of consumers in the United States are currently using this type of software.
Publishers have coalesced around a handful of strategies to take back control.
With this strategy, the publisher website lets a reader know it has noticed the reader is using an ad blocker. It explains that the publisher is ad-supported, and asks the reader to disable their ad blocker or whitelist the site. But it still shows the reader premium content whether or not they take action.
After noticing the reader is using an ad blocker, the site will block access to any content unless the reader disables their ad blocker or whitelists the site. For most publishers, this results in a substantial drop in traffic and revenue. Unless you have unique, high-value content, this strategy is likely to negatively impact your brand, and typically results in a 10% to 15% whitelist rate.
This strategy asks the reader to make a small electronic payment in return for reading a publisher’s premium content. Unfortunately, after much initial excitement, micropayments have never taken off.
Paying adblocking firms to whitelist.
Ad blocking companies are happy to let a publisher show ads, as long as those ads conform to a set of acceptability standards — and the publisher pays a fee to the ad-blocking firm. Most publishers refuse to take this path, seeing it as akin to paying ransom.
Publishers taking this approach do need to be careful to deploy high-quality advertising experiences so as not to annoy readers. The good news is that multiple large qualitative and quantitative studies show that consumer engagement and experience are not negatively impacted by this strategy.
Publishers Need a Partner
The top companies successfully helping publishers tackle ad-blocking issues include Instart Logic, based in Palo Alto, California, Pagefair, based in Dublin, and Uponit, based in Tel Aviv.
The focus at Instart Logic is helping publishers ensure their readers receive top advertising experiences, while the publisher recovers the revenue they otherwise lose to ad-blocking software.
Instart’s CMO Daniel Druker says the system is simple: “The key is to provide a non-intrusive, contextual and high-quality advertising experience for readers — ensuring all ads are compliant with standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. The result is an immediate 5% to 15% on-line revenue increase.”
According to Gal Glickman CEO at Uponit: “Users react favorably when publishers act responsibly. Therefore, they must remember to balance between streamlining user expectations and making money. Publishers should aspire to eradicate the harmful influence of ad blockers if they want to fully restore their ad revenue stream.”
Forrester senior analyst Susan Bidel did want to offer a caution: “While the partners help publishers generate or recover what would otherwise be lost revenue, they have the potential to impact the consumer experience negatively, which is something publishers never want to do.”
The emergence of technology companies bringing similar capabilities to Facebook’s is a welcome development in the ongoing battle with ad-blocking software.