People love free Web content, but they don’t love the ads that make it possible. Usage of ad blockers grew 48% in the U.S. last year to 45 million people, according a study by PageFair that estimates ad revenue lost to blockers at $22 billion.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has been assembling a war machine to take on the blockers. This week it released an “Ad Blocking Primer” and an detection script that digital advertisers can use to intercept and engage with people who block their ads. Providing publishers and advertisers with these weapons, says Scott Cunningham, GM of the organization’s Tech Lab “will open the door for transparency and meaningful dialog with visitors using ad blockers.”
The primer spells out seven tactics that publishers are apparently using successfully to deal with problem:
Notice: Present messages to site visitors who’ve activated ad blockers. There are several different tacks to take in this regard. Educate visitors educated about advertising’s role in presenting free content or warn visitors of how publishers may limit or punish ad blocking. Some ad platforms offer publishers a way to request payment for content in lieu of dealing with ads.
Access denial: Deny site access once a blocker is detected. This could include a message served up to explain why access is being denied and could be paired with an alternate payment option. The risk here is that visitors may just migrate to other sites.
Tiered experiences: In essence, reward people who watch ads and penalize those who don’t — short of denying access. A publisher could provide 10 articles a month to unregistered users without ad blockers, for instance, but only three to those using them.
Paid circulation: There are a number of approaches to take here: time-based recurring payments for access, a “punch card” granting specified access, a timed pass with an expiration date, or a members-only content page.
Ad reinsertion: This employs a technology that re-inserts ads after ad-blockers are detected, though it doesn’t guarantee re-insertion of the ad originally blocked.
Pay off the ad blockers: The Soprano’s method. The big and obvious problem here is that it funds the continued expansion of ad blocking companies. Also, publishers that pay to be included on ad-blocker white lists could unintentionally motivate users to download new ad blockers.
Payments to visitors: Simply reward visitors for watching ads. Give them free games, extra content, or even cash.
One tactic the IAB didn’t delve into is making advertising compelling enough to make web visitors want to view it, something many in the digital advertising community consider an imperative. The complete version of IAB’s Primer can be obtained here.