Browsing the Web without advertisements is nice. No obnoxious popups stealing your screen. No autoplaying videos slowing down page load times. And no creepy invasion of privacy. In fact, 89 percent of people who install adblocks do it to improve their user experience.
So really, what’s not to love about ad blocking? If you ask anyone in publishing, the answer is an emphatic “a lot”.
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First and foremost, when an ad blocker blocks ads, publishers earn no ad revenue.
But ad blocking isn’t anything new. People have been installing these extensions for years. But those people were considered a fringe group. And now that group runs the gamut of internet savvy users – at TNW, we call this Generation T.
Millennials – an advertiser’s demographic du jour – appear to be more likely to use ad blockers than any other statistic.
According to a recent study, two out of three US millennials use an ad blocker on either desktop or mobile devices.
If a visitor blocks your ads, it may be a sign you should get more creative with your revenue sources.
Native ads work
Ask five industry experts for the definition of ‘native ad’ and you’re likely to receive five different answers.
Why? Because by pure definition, native ads are supposed to blend in with the content around it – masquerading as content ambiguously.
Native ads are also often built into the web page’s fabric, it is a different technical challenge than normal blocking. This in and of itself makes it more difficult for ad blockers to differentiate between content.
Say what you want about native ads and the somewhat blurred lines between journalistic integrity and reader betrayal, native advertising works. But in this day and age of consumer-based content, advertisers need to create ads that gives value to readers.
Using subscriptions to monetize your site can be extremely profitable. And it’s a great money-making technique alternative to ads.
For one, consumers have grown accustomed to subscription models thanks to businesses like Netflix and Spotify. The emergence of the pay-per-month business model means consumers can have ad-free content on their own terms.
But don’t just take our word for it – in 2013 the New York Times reported that they made more money from their subscribers than their advertisers.
And while it may be scary to jump headfirst into a premium paywall, you could offer multiple subscription ‘levels’ and ‘durations’. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal tested 24 hour guest passes and expanded social link-sharing.
Fight ad blocking with finesse
If you’re not winning over people with kindness, perhaps it’s time to play hard ball and not let people check out content while they have an ad blocker enabled.
When Netflix wanted a way to reach the tech-savvy elite and inaccessible, they worked with MullenLowe Mediahub and The Next Web (yep, the very one you’re reading…) to hardcode messages directly into the blog.
Using a customized version of TNW’s ad platform – Canvas – Netflix was able to create ads that complimented their vision and goal.
— Stephen Briles (@Steve_Briles) October 21, 2016
— Caitlin Bales (@caitlinabales) October 21, 2016
For this campaign, we specifically highlighted the show Black Mirror – which focuses on the side effects of modern technology on humanity – by featuring a clever but slightly alarming message: “Hello ad blocker user. You cannot see the ad. But the ad can see you.”
Pay the ransom
While it sounds a bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul, some publishers are actually paying ad blockers to whitelist them. Counterintuitive? Absolutely. Does it work? Definitely.
Not a behemoth publisher? Not a problem. Whitelisting is free for smaller sites.
Don’t fear an ad-pocalypse
Despite the many articles claiming ad-pocalypse, the online publishing world isn’t experiencing a code blue situation. Unfortunately, there also doesn’t seem to be an easy answer to help publishers deal with the rising challenge of ad blockers.
But there are ways around without compromising the integrity of your site. And sometimes, you may even get whitelisted for your cool-factor.