The Adblocker Threat to Free Content

The Adblocker Threat to Free Content

The free content that is quietly provided to us is not guaranteed. On the contrary, it is threatened by the unbridled use of adblockers. Most of us are unaware of this because the costs of an internet that severely limits ads are not obvious. But, make no mistake, advertising is the lifeblood of free content.

Net neutrality drives the internet

“The concept that broadband internet service providers should provide nondiscriminatory access to Internet content, platforms, etc., and should not manipulate the transfer of data regardless of its source or destination.”

Dictionary.com

Net neutrality gives websites equal access to internet traffic. The natural extension of this principle is that the majority of websites provide free content.

Free does not mean costless. Like us, publishers pay for internet access. Unlike them, users don’t pay the costs of creating and providing content.

These costs are hidden and adblockers can easily recruit users as a result. They capitalize on our decreased tolerance for disruption and concerns over security. However, the cost of their “free” service is hidden as well.

 

The irony is that advertising is at once one of the most effective…
…and demonized ways publishers cover costs.

Like it or not, free content depends on advertising. Don’t take my word for it.

Let’s look at the US. 283.7 million citizens accessed the internet in 2015 and online advertising revenue reached $59.6 billion.

Advertising revenue of $59.6 billion / 283.7 million users = $200 p/user/p/year

Second, let’s look at how many users are removed from the monetization pool. A rough estimate is that 45 million were using adblockers in Q2 2015.

$59.6 billion / (283.7 million users – 45 million using adblockers) = $250 p/user/p/year

Now, let’s estimate lost revenue(I’ll remain conservative and use the original figure of $200 p/user/p/year):

$200 p/user/p/year * 45 million users with adblockers = $9 billion in lost revenue

And the trend…adblocker use increased 48% from Q2 2014 to ’15

Meanwhile advertising revenues increased 20.4% from 2014 to ’15.

What do these numbers mean?

The model is unsustainable. Unchecked, adblockers will remove enough users from the monetization pool that free content will be severely limited. In fact, there are already signs that we are approaching that point. For instance, you’ve probably seen more websites that ask you to disable your adblocker.

Why are adblockers silent about this? Simple,they are earning most of their revenue from whitelisting, a practice where larger advertisers pay adblockers to allow their ads to be displayed. One adblocker calls it the Acceptable Ads initiative.

The wording is an attempt by private entities to conflate themselves with public ones. Their messaging reads like a public service announcement, promising protection from an industry gone rogue through its direct oversight…provided to you free-of-charge.

Admittedly, it’s a brilliant piece of marketing and would not be effective if the online advertising industry didn’t have growing pains. That said, the “service” is not free and there are better ways to address legitimate concerns over user experience and security.

User experience

Ads that interfere with user experience are the primary reason why adblockers are used. Ads that blink, shake, follow, block access, or increase load times are common irritants.

However, Adblockers are not ideal because this is the one area where user and publisher interests are most aligned. If a site bombards users with ads, how likely will they revisit or share that site’s content? Publishers want users to visit and stay.

Ad networks provide an increasing number of options for ad placement, format, and content. Coupled with improved tracking, publishers no longer have to monetize their sites at the expense of the user experience. Ads can now be optimized so that they add value.

Security

Security will always be a hot topic and malvertising is extremely hot. Although this is the primary argument of adblockers, most users don’t cite this as their top concern.

Additionally, it may surprise you that adblockers have the right to alter content, without your knowledge.

Conversely, ad networks are addressing threats without such extreme measures. Remember, online advertising has only really taken off in the early 2000s and is evolving at a staggering pace.

The industry operates within an environment that places immense pressure on it and will continue adapting. After all, advertisers and publishers do not benefit when malvertising creates anxiety among users.

Meanwhile, adblockers are not adapting.

Facebook is now an “anti-user”, because it decided to give its community greater control over how they’re advertised to. They believe that they can provide secure ads which are not disruptive.

Adcash is adapting as well. With the Adcash Anti-Adblocker Solution, we are proud to be formally included in the “anti-user” camp, especially if it means allowing our publishers and advertisers to work together to provide value to users.

Advertising is fundamental to the sustainability of free content…that’s worth fighting for.

Kyle Buzzell

Kyle Buzzell

Content Manager

Psychology, sales and now marketing…Kyle uses his background and love of writing to create informative, engaging content for Adcash.

Defeat Adblockers with the Adcash Anti-Adblock Solution

Defeat Adblockers with the Adcash Anti-Adblock Solution

Adblockers; we’ve covered them before, here on the Adcash blog. When we dove into the topic last time, we looked at what they are, the scale of the adblock problem, and touched on a few ways publishers can personally tackle them.

Strategies available to publishers include asking users to disable their adblocker in exchange for some kind of incentive, placing content behind paywalls, and a few others.

Since then, we’ve been tirelessly working on something to fight adblockers ourselves.

Introducing the Adcash Anti-Adblocker Solution

The Adcash Anti-Adblocker Solution is the latest tool in our ad serving lineup. It safeguards the revenue of our publishers by ensuring that their ads are always being displayed. Last year, $21.8 billion in ad revenue was lost due to adblockers. Frankly put, that is a staggering amount of money and it only looks like it will continue to grow over the coming years.

Screen with functional adblocker
scree with adcash anti-adblock solution enabled

By giving publishers the tools they need to fight adblockers, we can make sure that they are able to recapture some of that lost ad revenue. The solution has been in a long testing phase, providing us plenty of time to tweak and optimize it. Consequently, it is able to bypass adblock attempts with a 98% success rate.

Why we built the Adcash Anti-Adblocker Solution

The numbers alone are a powerful motivator. In fact, Forbes’ CRO described adblockers as an “existential threat” to publishers and called for drastic action. The reality is that the vast majority of content consumed online is paid for by advertising. Most commonly, this is in the form of display ads.

screen with error message because of adblocker

If those ads are being blocked, they aren’t making the publishers any money, and the site will simply stop being able to function. Hosting bills go unpaid, writers don’t get paid. Before you know it, the site you checked every morning as you sat down for breakfast, vanishes.

While many will view our solution as a “nuclear” option, we feel the time has come to challenge and disrupt this area of the online advertising industry with new, technological solutions.

How does the Anti-Adblocker Solution work?

Obviously, we don’t want to reveal too much about how our new system works…this will ensure that it remains as effective as possible, for as long as possible. But quite simply, it hides the data that adblocking tools typically analyze in order to determine what is and isn’t an ad.

flow-chart of how adcash anti-adblock solution works

By hiding this data, the ads will not be blocked because they won’t be recognized by adblockers. This process has virtually no impact on page load times, so publishers can be sure that, not only will the ads load, they’ll load quickly.

Is there anything you need to do to use the Adcash Anti-Adblocker Solution?

If you’re already an Adcash publisher, there’s actually nothing you need to do. Just contact your account manager. If you want some more information, or have any questions, you can get in touch with our dedicated support team.

If, on the other hand, you’re not already an Adcash publisher, all you need to do is register with us. After your account is validated, you’ll be able to add the integration code to your page and that’s it; you’re now monetizing with an adblock protected ad network!

The future of adblockers

Since its inception, the digital economy has been constantly evolving. Like some sort of shapeshifter; it’s permanently moving between states — adblockers just form another part of that constant evolution. Our solution helps to mitigate the impact of the current state of the digital economy by helping our publishers to safeguard their ad revenue.

What is clear is that more needs to be done to address them directly. Whether that’s in the form of dialogue between publishers and their users, technological solutions like this, or another solution.

If you’ve got any thoughts on the topic, let us know in the comments below. We encourage direct, open feedback and we’d love to hear from you. Also, if you have any questions about the Adcash Anti-Adblocker Solution, ask away!

Please note that Adcash Anti-Adblocker Solution currently works on site-under.

Kyle Buzzell

Kyle Buzzell

Content Manager

Psychology, sales and now marketing…Kyle uses his background and love of writing to create informative, engaging content for Adcash.

Why do we feel so strongly against adblockers?

Why do we feel so strongly against adblockers?

Last week, we sent an email to our clients, publishers who have trusted Adcash to help them monetize their sites. Since then, many have asked me why we are so strongly against adblockers as to declare such a public war on them?

On the surface, adblocking is a business like any other, but with one glaring exception: They misrepresent themselves as noble guardians of the online community, protecting users from abusive advertising practices.

Scratch a little beneath the surface and you will see that their business model is anything but civic-minded. Using the same technology as malware, they block and alternate content on other businesses’ online properties. In the offline world, I cannot deface billboards of advertisers who won’t pay protection money to me. How then, is it fair for adblockers to block your ads unless you pay to be whitelisted? The same is true if you are a web-site owner. This is nothing more than naked racketeering. In a free market, it is your fundamental right to earn a profit from a well-executed idea!

Let me state plainly: Adblockers’ profitability is based on the ransom it collects from holding the industry hostage.

Piece by piece, adblockers have been dismantling the online advertising industry for many years. In 2016, it is estimated that $41.4 billion in ad revenue will be lost due to adblockers. That’s fine for them, as their revenue is expected to grow by 40% in 2016. This is not an abstraction; for every dollar they make, a dollar is taken from a publisher’s pocket. This results in a minimum 30% loss in ad revenue. When you are blocked from earning money from your idea, scaling it will be difficult and you may have to cut costs, thereby compromising content quality.

For years, this fight has been conducted quietly, as all publishers have been trying to find tools to bypass adblockers. Recently, it has become increasingly public because of adblockers’ overreaching. In fact, they are blocking publisher business to the extent that once promoter of adblockers, IAB, has even intervened.

From the beginning, we made a commitment to our publishers to help them succeed through monetizing their content. To that end, we have been exploring ways to help our clients bypass adblockers in a fair and legal way. I am excited to announce that we have been testing a new in-house technology called Adcash Anti-Adblock Solution to secure your revenue. The results have been nothing less than astonishing as this technology gives publishers back their ad revenue. I’m happy that we at Adcash can say to our clients, we are making good on our promise to help you succeed.

Kind regards,

Thomas Padovani

CEO, Adcash OÜ

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