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Blocking ad blocker users

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday March 9, 2010 )

Ad blocking software robs content sites of revenue. What if you could block those folks using ad blockers? Would you? Should you? Here’s a site that tried recently.

By ad blocking, I don’t mean the popup killers. These are easily gotten around by using hover ads and popovers. I’m referring to applications that block just about every sort of ad delivered by a third party ad network, such as Google’s Adwords or banner ads delivered by DoubleClick.

I last wrote about these ad blocker browser plugins way back in 2007. At that time, a popular plugin had over 2.5 million users. In 2008, the plugin had been downloaded 13 million times and had 3,000,000 active daily users. Statistics current up until the beginning of this week show 73 million downloads and 9 million daily users.

Ars Technica, a very popular information technology site decided to see what would happen if they blocked users from viewing content if they were using a detectable ad blocker. Ars says they have had to “cut staff and cut benefits because a huge portion of readers block ads”.

The 12 hour experiment ended in what they called a “mixed bag” of results.

Some whitelisted the site (meaning they could specify in their ad blocker software not to block ads while on the site) and others kicked up a fuss. You can read more about the experiment here.

In short, if Ars Technica only ran the experiment for 12 hours, my advice to smaller sites is .. perhaps don’t try this at home. Sites like Ars Technica have very loyal followings and you may stretch your reader’s loyalty by trying the same. A more gentle way around it may be to mention the impact of ad blocking in your newsletter or blog; or perhaps somehow display a message for those people who arrive on your site, politely asking them to add you to their white list, with a link to instructions on how to do so. This may not be as effective(?) as what Ars Technica tried, but a little less risky.

Ad blockers are here to stay; we just need to get used to it. While some would argue that relying on advertising revenue is a flawed model any, many sites have been surviving on ad bucks successfully for years. We just need to get creative and the other point to bear in mind – try and ensure your advertising is relevant and useful to your visitors. If they do whitelist you and find your advertising to be irrelevant or far too intrusive, they may remove you from their whitelist for good and no begging or pleading will reverse that.



 

 
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