AD Blocked: What now?
Published 1st July 2016
What is the sound of an ad getting blocked on the Internet? To butcher the famous Zen saying for my own materialistic ways, I’d have to answer it is the gnashing of teeth.
On one hand, you have the publisher who relies upon the revenue from the ad that has just been blocked, and on the other hand, you have the advertiser who has just wasted his ad budget. While we are strongly against adblocking when it is implemented in a blanket way, for example at a browser, OS or ISP level, we are pro-choice where users decide for themselves to implement an ad blocking solution. The best way to tackle this topic is to divide it into the two types of clients we help with ad-blocking avoidance techniques, and they are the advertiser (gambling firm) and the publisher (affiliate).
The easiest to help are affiliates, who we are big fans of helping. Affiliates rely upon ads and the clicks to operators they generate for their entire business. For affiliates, there are two key things they can do. Step 1 is to implement a plugin which will show you how many of your visitors are actually using an ad blocker (such as the Revenue Engineers Google Analytics plugin). This can quickly help you estimate the impact of ad blockers on your business. Step 2 is to implement your own ad server and to stop using the third-party ad serving of the operators. By using your own ad server you are seriously reducing the chances of banner ads on your website being blocked. Step 3 is to test, test, test. Install all the major ad blockers, click all the links to operators and see if any operators are being blocked at a re-direct/tracking link level. Inform your affiliate manager and deprioritize the ranking of the operators with issues. Alternatively, if your CMS and ad server is smart enough you can detect users with ad blockers installed and show them different operators. Step 4: don’t forget the basics and making sure you are using icons, buttons, text links and other formats that don’t get blocked by ad blockers.
From an advertiser perspective, we’d actually flip this on its head and say users who have opted-in to not see any banner ads won’t click on your ad anyway, so don’t get too hung up on it and focus on optimizing for the users who want to engage with your brand. Ask yourself: does your creative actually warrant anyone’s attention or interest? Typically the answer is no, but I really need new sign-ups, so what can you do to help? For operators, it is all about choosing carefully. The biggest blunder most operators make is not to understand how they get charged for their display campaigns. Before a banner ad appears on a website to a user, a request is made to ad server asking for the ad. The ad is then served and a notification is then sent back saying the ad has successfully loaded, please record an impression. However, ad networks typically base their billing on the “ads requested” and not on the “ads served”. This means that you are probably paying for ads that never even got loaded as they were blocked by the ad blocker. So the quickest possible optimization is to check with your ad networks on how you are being charged. There are a number of ad networks that pay to be added to ad blocking white lists, which means ads served via their network will be served with the permission of the ad blocking company. It’s not a perfect solution and the whitelists change regularly, but it’s definitely worth making sure you are on the right networks.
Impact on the gaming industry
The gaming industry, more than most industries, is used to dealing with all different types of restrictions. We see this as business as usual and what makes this such an exciting industry to work in. The real challenge for affiliates and operators now is to create compelling ads and content people actually want to engage with, and from that perspective the industry still has a long way to go.