Ad blockers are a big issue for publishers and have a direct impact on their ad revenue stream. Ad-based monetization is the main source of income for most publishers, despite alternative monetization strategies such as paywalls or membership content.
We have put together 4 key trends and tips that can help you bring your precious dollars back.
What is Ad Blocker?
Ad blocker is a content filtering tool that can remove or alter ads. Ad blockers are typically available as browser extensions (AdBlock, Adblock Plus, uBlock), software (AdGuard), and mobile apps (Clario).
AdBlock is often used as an umbrella term for all ad blockers since it’s the most installed extension for ad blocking.
How Do Ad Blockers Work?
Ad blockers work by altering the webpage’s content. Ad blockers scan the webpage for scripts and compare them against filter lists. Once they find a match, they block it and inform the browser what to render.
Depending on the configuration, the ad can be replaced with a blank space or with different content.
Hence, ad blockers can interfere with some websites’ setups. Meaning that users might see low-quality content; for example, images can appear broken, and the content itself might look crooked. As a publisher, it’s important to keep track of these things.
4 Ad Blocker Trends in 2023
1. Ad Blocker Rates
How many people use ad blockers?
The number of ad blocker users is continuously rising, albeit slowly. In 2021, 27% of users in the US have used ad blockers.
- Ad blockers are most popular among young users aged 16-24 and 25-34.
- Ad blockers in the US as of 2020 are still mostly used on computers (37%), followed by mobile (15%) and tablets (10%).
- The number of users who whitelist websites in order to access content across the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland is on the rise.
- The latest data shows that in 2020 ad blockers were most popular in Asia with a 40.6% user penetration rate, followed by Europe (29.6%) and the Americas (19.2%).
2. Ad Quality
The 2021 data suggests that the main reason why most users utilize ad blockers is that they see too many ads as intrusive or annoying.
This suggests that industry-wide initiatives such as Better Ads Standards and Acceptable Ads weren’t successful in eliminating intrusive ad experiences.
3. Paid Content
In 2020, ad blockers caused a $35 billion loss in publishers’ ad revenue. As a result, 50% of the leading publishers focused on subscription-based content as their main revenue source in 2020, as shown in the image below.
Subscription-based content grants users ad-free access to the content on the basis of a subscription or a single payment. This is also known as a paywall.
Publishers interested in building a community might find that the subscription model works well for their audience. Despite that, most users who use ad blockers would rather see ads than pay for the content.
To find out what works best for your users, you need to ask them.
4. Pushing Against Ad Blockers
In 2017 Google launched its consent management platform (CMP) called Funding Choices that is integrated with Google’s advertising services. All publishers with significant European traffic must implement CMP as per Google’s requirement.
CMPs inform users that their data will be used to provide personalized ads that comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and IAB Europe’s TCF.
Funding Choices also automatically identify users with ad blockers.
Publishers can require those users to turn off ad blocker after seeing a certain number of free articles. In some cases, publishers can even restrict access to free content altogether.
Does Google have an ad blocker?
Google Chrome also has its own built-in ad blocker which is set by default for Google Chrome users. The aim of this ad blocker is to offer an alternative to traditional ad blockers that block all ads and hurt publishers’ revenue while providing a good user experience.
It only blocks highly intrusive ads such as pop-ups or auto-play videos. Thus, it’s not an ad blocker in the traditional sense.
4 Tips on How to Deal with Ad Blockers
1. Optimize Your Site By Implementing Betters Ads Standards
Today, most SSPs comply with standards set by the industry regulatory bodies such as Coalition for Better Ads, IAB, IAB Techlab.
Google, Index Exchange, Magnite, Criteo are members of the Coalition for Better Ads Standards (BAS), to name a few. Coalition sets out guidelines for permissible ad formats for mobile, desktop, and video.
Beware that those publishers who don’t comply with BAS won’t be able to show ads on Google Chrome.
2. Use Tools to Monetize Ad Blocking Audience
There is an option to get your website whitelisted through the Acceptable Ads program.
Here’s a note AdBlock greets its users upon installation.
Ad formats like in-feed ads that don’t disrupt the natural reading flow will then be shown to users who disabled ads but opted in to see Acceptable Ads creatives. However, Acceptable Ads isn’t the only program to filter ads.
Don Rua, Marketing Director at Admiral: “Publishers’ best path is to use both methods simultaneously to maximize ARPU (Average revenue per user). In fact, Admiral offers both methods, but even if they use another vendor for AA, adding our ‘full-stack recovery’ alongside can improve revenue recovery up to 7X more. They complement each other, just like multiple demand bidders are better for yield optimization than one.“
This case study demonstrates how Admiral’s Engagement revenue recovery delivered 7.3X more total revenue than the Acceptable Ads filtered-ad method alone on a popular gaming website. However, it was the combination of both recovery methods that resulted in the most profit for the publisher.
3. Encourage Your Visitors to Disable an Ad Blocker
There are 2 ways on how to ask your users to disable an ad blocker:
- Hard messaging
- Soft messaging
What is Hard Messaging?
Hard messaging is a method that works similarly to a paywall, whereby users won’t be able to read content unless they turn ad blocker off or subscribe/make a donation.
What is Soft Messaging?
Soft messaging is a method that asks visitors to allow ads, however, there’s an option to do it later. For example, the soft message can appear after the user read a certain number of articles with an ad blocker on.
4. Partner Up with Monetization Platform
Setupad runs non-intrusive advertising formats that are compliant with the Better Ads Standards in a couple of placements per page. This allows publishers to regain 10%-20% of ad revenue that would otherwise be lost.
Povilas Goberis, COO at Setupad: ”Luckily, there are sustainable ways to monetize your ad blocking audience. For example, it is possible to partner with companies like Acceptable Ads Exchange (AAX) that run monetization solutions according to Acceptable Ads requirements. The technology works like an ad filter that only delivers the best-quality ads to users who can continue to enjoy free content. The process is fully transparent and user-consented.”
Setupad runs an additional layer of demand from Google and some of the most popular SSPs, including Google AdX, Adform, Magnite, and OpenX. Setupad also has its blocklist by default, which automatically blocks unwanted and low-quality ads on publishers’ domains. Sign up today and see our work in action!
The Bottom Line
Although AdBlock and its alternatives continue to affect publishers’ ad revenue, we at Setupad believe that quality content creation should be supported.
However, your goal to monetize ads shouldn’t negatively affect user experience. Invest your time, analyze, and test to see if your website has the right ad formats and the right amount of ad placements.