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What's Blocking Your Brand Content?

There are reasons why ad blockers are so prevalent. Here’s how to work with them.

When I first began creating native ads for major newspapers back in 2014, I couldn’t find them when I performed very specific Google searches for my name, the title of the article, the newspaper and verbatim text from the articles.
When my clients gave me the links to the content, I went to the websites, saw the headlines but saw no text. After scratching my head for a few minutes, I wondered if the ad blocker I was using on my browser might be the problem. Sure enough, when I took the ad blocker off that page, my content appeared.
Many publishers and brands don’t realize that Google doesn’t serve some forms of brand content in its search results, and that ad blockers block content they believe are actually ads (e.g., native ads and sponsored content), not just display ads.

Don’t try to game the system

Some publishers tried putting their sponsored content and native ads on different platforms than their ads, but ad-blocking companies figured out how to identify sponsored content and block it. Google also asks publishers to take specific steps to identify the posts that include paid content so it can keep those off Google News, and adds a warning: “. . . if we find non-news content mixed with news content, we may exclude your entire publication from Google News.”

What can you do?

First, find out if this is a problem. Determine what percentage of your visitors are using an ad blocker. If it’s a significant number, proceed to the next step. Have your marketing staff learn the FTC guidelines for serving native and sponsored content. Next, have your content and IT staffs familiarize themselves with Google’s policies toward identifying and serving paid content. Check out AdBlock Plus’s list of “acceptable” ads.
Once you’re familiar with how to follow the rules, serve your content as ethically as possible to avoid unnecessary penalties to your entire domain.
Your webmaster can set up tools that detect visitors who have an ad blocker, serving them with a popup that asks them to turn off their ad blocker (just for this page, or just for your website). You might serve a note, “Can’t read the content on this page? Turn off your ad blocker!” If you don’t need the traffic, and visitors who don’t view your ads provide you with no benefit, you can block these people from accessing your content altogether. “Sorry, you’ll need to turn your ad block software off to access this site.”
You can enhance your native app strategy, recommends Dan Ucko, content marketing manager for native advertising company, Sharethrough. This involves moving people from your website to your app to access your content, thereby preventing ad blockers from working.
Ad blockers are here to stay, and there’s a reason. Too many websites are serving too much junk. Looking at the reasons Google and ad blockers are targeting some forms of brand content will help you create and serve the type of content your target customers want, helping you achieve your goal of becoming a brand of choice.

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