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What Publishers Often Get Wrong About Adblock Recovery

Mar 26, 2019 7:30:00 AM


When every ad dollar counts, digital publishers that chose not to monetize their adblock audience with adblock recovery solutions lose out on thousands of dollars every month

In 2015, we were introduced to the first browser extension which has gone on to build a cottage industry challenging the assumptions of the internet’s ad-sponsored model. While “the sky is falling” sentiments have dissipated since then, adblocking is still costing publishing millions and millions of dollars every month.

Indundated with pitches from vendors, who can publishers trust?

With Chrome’s adblocker going global in July and historical growth in adblocker installation, adblocking should not be ignored. Publishers can take comfort in knowing that these millions of adblock users are marketable and monetizable. Ignoring such users would mean publishers are losing out on the opportunity to put $690K1 or more back in their pocket every year!

Considering all the upsides of adblock recovery, we will examine a few of the reasons publishers have adopted a less-than-enthusiastic approach towards adblock recovery.

“Category fatigue” plagues publishers

As publishers’ bottom-line were initially threatened, adblockers were quickly branded enemies. Enraged, many publishers went with solutions that worked by circumventing the adblockers. What unfolded was a cat-and-mouse battle that still drags on, usually leaving the adblock recovery vendor battered and bruised and the publisher frustrated with the lack of consistent recovery and a lot of technical meddling to do to support the vendor’s recovery efforts.

The circumvention approach also leaves publishers with broken pages and long periods of downtime -- publishers have lamented declining yield, inconsistent revenue, and poor user experience. Given the financial pressures publishers face every day, taking a break on revenue generation is not an option.

In fact, many publishers took another revenue hit when their previous adblock recovery vendors went down because of their unsustainable technical approach. So publishers burned by adblock recovery have understandably become skeptical of this category and would rather dismiss the opportunity to monetize their adblock audience than to go through the hassle of working with a mediocre circumvention recovery vendor again.

The choice to use messaging, adblock walls and subscriptions haven't panned out

Gated content and “Please turn off your adblocker” pop-ups require adblock users to change their browsing behavior and so are more of a “roll the dice”. PageFair’s 2017 Report showed that 74% of adblock users will leave the website when they are prompted to disable their adblocker. Facing high bounce rates, gated content is only slightly better than doing nothing.

What’s interesting is that “adblocker developers could easily disable these messages along with all the other popups, but many ad blockers have chosen to let them live.” Motherboard, Vice’s tech news publication pointed out that adblockers are reluctant to do so because publishers rely on ad dollars to fund their team. It seems users are also learning to ignore these messages as many publishers allow users to remain on the content without whitelisting.

Subscriptions are a bit of a mystery. Unlike the New York Times, most publishers are unable to command as much brand cachet to create thriving subscription models. We also learned that users will only subscribe to a handful of content they like. In an interview with Business Insider, Nic Newman, a senior research associate at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism sums it best, “Subscriptions are a winner-take-all affair.”

What all these unreliable scenarios mean for publishers is revenue recovered could vary wildly from one month to the next.


Now: How to get it right...

In contrast, publishers looking to monetize instantly and reliably should look to adblock recovery via acceptable ads. Such solutions engage adblock users on their own terms, and surprisingly its estimated that ~70% of all adblock users have opted in to seeing a lightweight ad experience. When the technology exists to recover the revenue you are losing to adblock (it's lost otherwise!), implementing a reliable adblock recovery solution is a "no-brainer".

Writing off the adblock recovery category -- (particularly one that enjoys 99.9% uptime, monetizes 2-4x better than the competition, is easy to implement and generally returns ~70% of the revenue lost to adblockers each month) is a mistake in this competitive era.
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1 As you would expect, the cost of blocking ads to publishers varies across verticals and sizes.

Alicia Chin

Written by Alicia Chin