Although it is not very surprising, adblock users can be a significant part of your audience and their proactive approach to avoid seeing ads on your website can cost you money. How much? The number depends on where are you from, for instance it is around 26% of Internet users in the US and 32% in Germany (source eMarketer). Adblocks are also way more painful if majority of your traffic is mobile. According to 2020 PageFair Adblock Report at the end of 2019 there was 527 million of people using mobile browsers blocking ads be default and 236 million of desktop adblock users (source Pagefair). Adblocking definitely went mobile.
Also, 2020 adblocking is way more than just Adblock Plus or similar tools. Beyond that there are multiple browsers which block advertising by default or offer an easy opt-out mechnism, VPNs, device DNSs and so on. In general, it is a part of a wider discussion about user privacy, tracking technologies and often discussed death of 3rd party cookies.
But there is at least a partial solution to this problem and some initiatives and technologies aimed at “unblocking” traffic and monetizing it are already in place. Due to its ambitious goal of building a connection between users, adblocking technologies providers and publisher, we would like to focus on Acceptable Ads Committee in particular.
Acceptable Ads Standard
Publishers wouldn’t be able to provide any content without either advertisement, paywalls or other revenues streams. Period. In general, users are less likely to pay for it with money, so it’s rather common to see ads everywhere you go. The Acceptable Ads Standard developed by Acceptable Ads Committee aims at creating a guide to high-quality, but non-intrusive advertising to ad block users (source Acceptable Ads). By enforcing limited number of ad units, available formats, and ad placements it tries to persevere good user experience.
There are a few key indicators of ads being complaint with the standard. A distinction between ads and content plays a very important role. Ads should not disrupt the natural reading flow. Size matters too as it should not exceed given height and width in certain content positions:
- above: 200px height
- side: 350px width
- below: 400px height
Also, all ads visible above the fold and below the fold can’t occupy more than 15% and 25% of viewport respectively. They can use static images and text only. There is also a list of things that are explicitly forbidden:
- Ads that visibly load new ads if the Primary Content does not change
- Ads with excessive or non-user-initiated hover effects
- Animated ads
- Autoplay sound or video ads
- Expanding ads
- Generally oversized image ads
- Interstitial page ads
- Overlay ads
- Overlay in-video ads
- Pre-roll video ads
- Rich media ads (e.g. Flash ads, Shockwave ads, etc.)
In general, it is an initiative that allows publishers to continue creating valuable content with less risk for their ad revenue stream. As long as they run quality ads, they can reach users of the most popular ads-blocking solutions.
Adblock traffic monetization platforms
Beyond committees like the one described above, there are also platforms that offer adblock traffic monetization. It is not our goal to discuss them in details, still it is good to be aware of platforms like Adrecover meta-SSP, which only serves light ads, Criteo first-party cookies solution (most popular adblocks simply block 3rd party cookies) or Acceptable Ads Exchange. The latter is especially interesting and powerful as it “unblocks” Google Ad Manager tags, however its implementation might present difficulties.
Even though it may sometimes look like a whack a mole game, in general the publisher/technologies vs. adblocking tug-of-war might be beneficial for everyone. In the end, users are more likely to accept advertising if it does not put their privacy at risk and make searching the internet unbearable.
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Growth of the Blocked Web, 2020 PageFair Adblock Report