Context is Everything: How to Counter AdBlock


Use of AdBlock and similar tools is increasing. AdBlock alone saw a 70% increase in adoption between June 2013 and June 2014. This growth is especially steep in Western countries, with over 28% of Americans reporting that they’ve installed the program. It indicates that consumers are telling advertisers something is getting lost in translation with all the adtech “toll takers” putting invasive engagements on sites.

As Frederic Filloux, in his article for Monday Note explained, an increasing number of readers are “voting with their mice” against the growing invasiveness of digital advertising. That means that, “if your site, or your apps, are saturated with pop-up windows, screaming videos impossible to mute or skip, you are encouraging the adoption of AdBlock.” And we all know that once readers block ads, it’s unlikely that they’ll see them again until they purchase a new computer or switch to a new browser.

Clearly, consumers want better experiences with content today – advertising or otherwise. Even Google recognizes this , as evidenced by its Contributor program that will allow readers to donate a certain amount of money to the sites they view and see a “thank you” in place of advertisements. Theoretically, Contributor would ensure the best experience for customers and a fixed “fee” to website owners for each page read by users, but would deal an impressive blow to brands as it would remove the ability to advertise on these relevant channels and force them to rely on content marketing, customer intelligence and public relations efforts to get the word out.

This trend towards ad blockers acts as a tourniquet on income for both publishers and advertisers, as their efforts to get readers’ attention go increasingly unseen, unheard and unnoticed. Imagine how much your bottom line could change if you could bring back those impressions as engaged readers of higher quality content and advertisements.

What Is the Solution?
As consumers increase their usage of ad blocking software, it’s never been clearer that there are major benefits to moving away from intermediaries that don’t have publisher or advertiser goals in their best interest.

Think of it in this way – audiences are a lot like vegetables. If you want the highest quality produce possible, for prices that offer a greater ROI, you go right to the source – the farm. Motivated farmers recognize this need, and band together to bring their goods to a more convenient location in the form of farmers markets. Publishers, who create incredible context for advertisements, can do the same for potential advertisers that seek to reach the highest quality audiences and work directly with publishers.

As is the case with many problems, online advertising must be fixed by those closest to it. The middlemen – companies such as Google AdSense, Glam Media and loosely regulated ad exchanges, to name a few – have been in control of success and failures for far too long, and it’s necessary for publishers and advertisers to finally take the reigns of the online advertising industry, and repair the damage from the following trends caused by intermediaries:

● “Arm’s Length” Deprioritization: The disbursement of advertisers’ material to several subsidiary companies means that, for example, with AdMob alone (Google’s mobile advertising intermediary), there are 35 networks that your advertisement might show up on, all of which are run semi-autonomously. Both advertisers and publishers are no longer a priority to their vendors.
● Apathy and Distrust: Because the business models of these companies run off of keeping publishers and advertisers from directly working together, they encourage apathy and distrust between professionals who should be excited to collaborate.
● Louder and Louder Creative: By indicating that advertising impressions are much more valuable than they are, these intermediaries provide an easy way for creatives to rush out quick deliverables to clients. This results in poorly designed advertisements that are oversimplified bids for attention using noise and movement that turn off today’s consumers and destroys user experience.

To return to the homegrown produce analogy, it’s time that we bring the farmers market mentality to digital advertising and audience engagement. When stakeholders make the choice to focus on the quality of the content they collaborate on they’ll quickly see greater ROI – not to mention, fewer “tolls” means top line increases as well.

Simultaneously, more direct alignment between publishers and advertisers means that publishers will see much higher page views and a greatly reduced bounce rate, as readers will no longer navigate away due to obnoxious content yelling for their attention. Greater reader engagement by any metric you value drives higher revenue and publishers who have the “organic produce” of online content will see true value for the passionate audiences they’ve cultivated over time.


  1. The Auto Channel click-through rates historically (over 20 years) average around 2% our site publishes only automotive centric information, so I guess that our viewers do want more info from relevant advertisers…if only we can command the per viewer rates we deserve… oh well.


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