Ads begat ad blockers, which began anti-ad blockers. What’s next?
First there was ad blocking software. Then there were anti-ad blockers that prevent software from blocking the ads displayed on a website. Now there are anti-anti-ad blockers. What’s next? Brands, publishers and content brokers need to consider the ad blocking reality decide how to deal with this facet of the continually changing digital advertising landscape.
What are ad blockers?
Ad blockers prevent many types of ads – including native advertising and sponsored content text articles – from displaying in a browser. The user installs an app on his or her browser and the app detects and blocks ads. Users have the option of turning off the ad blocker on certain pages or entire domains.
Why did they emerge?
Consumers interviewed for the PageFair/Adobe 2015 Ad Blocking Report stated “misuse of personal information” as their #1 reason for using an ad blocker.
However, another more obvious problem may have played a role in the rise of ad blockers – irritation. As pay-per-click revenue began generating serious profits for publishers, websites started to display more and more pay-per-click ads. That in itself wasn’t a problem – although too many ads was the #2 reason for using an ad blocker.
What marketers did with their ads is what may have led to the meteoric rise of ad blockers.
To compete for consumer attention and get more people to click on their ads and visit their websites, countless advertisers began creating zillions of ads that irritated people trying to use the Web. More and more ads became sexually suggestive, misleading, animated, tasteless or accompanied by an annoying picture to get the user’s attention.
Bouncing and flashing ads made it difficult for people to read a text article. Ads that promised consumers in Georgia “one weird trick” for getting out of a speeding ticket or lowering their mortgage payments were quickly understood to be generic content with the name of the user’s city or state changed based on recognition of the user’s ISP location. Sexually suggestive photos of women (a selling tool for decades) proliferated.
How prevalent are ad blockers?
The 2015 Ad Blocking Report found the number of digital consumers using ad blockers increased 41 percent worldwide (almost 50 percent in the U.S.), from 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2015, 16 percent of American Internet users used an ad blocker. Approximately 45 million Americans and 198 million worldwide consumers use a monthly ad block. Estimated lost revenue from ad blockers is projected to be more than $20 billion in the U.S. in 2016.
Mobile ad blocking is now on the increase with Apple’s new “content blocker” app for iOS 9.
What are anti-ad blockers?
In response to the growth of ad blockers, websites began writing software that detected ad blockers and either prohibited visitors from accessing content on the site, or served a request asking visitors to “please” turn off their ad blocker to help the website generate necessary revenue.
Blocking visitors did more damage than good for some websites, and many other sites found visitors simply ignored their polite requests for cessation of ad blocker use, so website owners fought back with anti-ad blockers.
Internet geeks responded with anti-ad block “killers.”
Should you block ad block users from seeing your content?
If visitors who don’t click on your ads provide you with no benefit, you might want to force them to turn off their ad blockers (on your page or site only) to access your content. If your content is important enough to these visitors, they might not mind turning off their ad blockers just for your site, especially if you let them know with a quick pop-up message that this only takes a few seconds and you show them how.
If you’re going to ask visitors to your site to work with you in this way, take steps to serve ads in a responsible way, including not allowing annoying ads and decreasing the number you place on each page – the reason your visitors use an ad blocker in the first place.
If you need maximum visitor traffic for reasons beyond pay-per-click revenue, you’ll need to let guests with ad blockers access your content, hoping to generate at least some revenue from ads, as well as the other benefits of maximum traffic.