Ad Blocking

Surviving the ‘Adblockalypse’: Whitelists, Subscriptions, Branded Content

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Are you scared by ad blocking statistics yet?

According to the 2017 Global Ad Block Report by PageFair:

  • 11% of the global internet population is blocking ads
  • Ad blocking grew at 30% between 2015 and 2016
  • Mobile adblock usage surged in Asia-Pacific by 40% in the same period

Most analysts only predict these adoption numbers to go up in the future. What does this mean for publishers? How can they reduce the revenue leakage caused by ad blocking? How can you survive the adblockalypse? Here are a few solutions.

> Have a Whitelist Strategy

A user-initiated whitelist as seen on Forbes.com

Whitelisting can help recover some of the revenue you would have otherwise lost to ad blockers by taking steps to ensure that your website passes the ad block filters.

There are two types of whitelisting.

  • In user-initiated whitelisting, you can directly request users to add an exception http://www.yourwebsite.com into their ad block software preferences. You can do this by writing your own script or by using a third-party whitelisting service. Even Google provides a service called Funding Choices now, using which publishers can request users to either whitelist their website or contribute a small amount for a ad-removal pass.
  • The second type of whitelisting is adblock-supported whitelisting. Many ad block providers run programs that allow publishers to have their sites pass their filters, provided they meet a certain predefined criteria. AdBlock Plus, for instance, requires publishers to comply with the Acceptable Ads standard before requesting a whitelist for their website.

> Ask Users to Support Your Website

Google Funding Choices allows publishers to display this notice when ad block use is detected.

Publishing is not a free business… it costs money to buy server hosting, staff an editorial team, distribute content, etc. Many are now counting on user support to meet these costs.

User support can either be in the form of subscriptions or donations.

  • To set up a digital subscription, publishers can either choose soft paywalls, where users have limited access to content before requiring a subscription, or hard paywalls, where users have to subscribe to gain access to anything on the website. To learn more how to implement a subscription on your website, read our post about how paywalls work.
  • Another popular trend among web publishers who don’t want to earn money by restricting access to their content is to rely on user donations. Payment services such as Patreon and Instamojo (India-specific) are popular choices. This approach works great for websites that have a small but passionate audience who want to support the operation.

> Run Branded Content and Native Ads

An example of branded content on NYT by sponsor brand Dell.

Just because display ads are having a moment doesn’t mean that advertising is dead, some newer formats are both effective and impervious to the scrutiny of ad blockers.

Branded content, also known as sponsored content, is one way publishers can earn revenue by promoting a brand and showcasing their products and services in a manner that is not obtrusive in a way banner advertising tends to be. Many media companies now have in-house branded content teams that work directly with advertisers to create editorial content that aligns with their brand in some way. According to a report on Digiday, 60% of CNN’s international revenue now comes through this channel.

Apart from branded content, adding native ads to your inventory is a great way to lift your ad revenue without adversely affecting the user experience of your website. Most popular content recommendation providers such as Outbrain, Taboola, and Revcontent have existing acceptable ad partnerships with ad blockers in place, which means the native ads you set up through these services will be displayed even on devices using ad blockers.

> Find an Ad Tech Partner

Ad tech is a complicated space and have the right ad tech partner can help you save a lot of time and effort in implementing a custom ad strategy. While choosing an ad tech partner, keep your requirements in mind… do you need someone to implement header bidding? Or perform layout testing? Set up native ads? Ad tech companies tend to be specialised so you may want to find one that’s suited for your specific purpose.

Here’s one for ad block recovery: AdRecover exclusively works on recovering your ad blocked inventory, which most publishers are currently not monetizing. Hence this opens a new avenue for publishers to increase their ad revenue by 10-35% by monetizing their ad blocked traffic, which most existing networks cannot monetize since they are blocked by ad blockers.