IAB’s Ad Blocking Primer and Publisher Case Studies

Publisher’s making DEAL to battle ad blocking.

Rise of Ad blockerThe traditional value exchange that advertising offered to the world of digital publishing is under a treat from the rapid growth of the ad blocker.
Recognising this threat, IAB recently released an ad blocking primer that describes a range of tactics available to a publisher to connect with visitors who have installed ad blocking browser extensions. The primer identifies D.E.A.L. as a recommended approach to this problem(time for the ad-puns!).

Detect - Explain - Ask - Lift Limit

The tactics described below fall into the Lift and Limit section of D.E.A.L. and must be adopted after careful consideration of the pros and cons –

  1. Notice – (Low Risk) It is the act of issuing a notice to the visitor, which is harmless as such but the tone of the message is cruicial for a brand’s image. Low effectiveness but gives a good light touch entry point to spark a discussion with the user.
  2. Access Denial ­– (High Risk) A drastic move to highlight the value enchange that is ebabled by advertising. It should always be paired with an alternate payment opportunity (micropayment, subscription). Effectiveness may vary with the perceived value of content to the audience with the high risk of user alienation.
  3. Tiered Experience – (Medium Risk) It involves offering a visitor constrained or modified experience. This might involve additional system complexity and higher development costs. Expected returns might be low due to visitor satiation to the limited content or eventual alienation due to dissatisfactory content.
  4. Payments from visitors – (Medium-High Risk) Enforced with/out access denial or tiered experience, this approach involves micro-payment/subscription model. This approach results in increased complexity, operational costs, and website risk profile; the possibility of disenfranchising user base and loss of audience due to social friction; subscription inertia and increased perceived value of content or service might drive good value for the brand over time.
  5. Ad Reinsertion – (Low Risk) It is the process of using technology to insert ads that bypass ad blocking after an ad-blocker has been detected. This approach requires technology investments and has limited effectiveness due to risks to data and measurement that limits the value of the reclaimed impression.
  6. Payments to visitors – (Low Risk) This would involve rewarding visitors for their time spent on advertising, for example – an extra life in a mobile game if the visitor chooses to view the ad or access credit for the next three articles. This approach results in increased complexity and operational costs; Limitations to the approach include fraud, low value per single user and strong requirement of personally identifiable user information.
  7. Payment to Ad blocker companies – (Low Risk) The last option would be to give into the demands of the extortionists by paying the Ad blocker companies, which in turn will fund ad blocking technology. Easy to implement, predictable cost model that might result in user backlash with low overall effectiveness due to creative limitations and partial user reach.

Ad Blocker allows ads; avoiding Ad blocking

You can access the IAB primer here; it provides detailed information about the benefits-limitations of the each of the tactics briefly discussed above.

Publisher Case Studies –

The Guardian is a good example of Notice and Payments from visitors approach done well with low risk. The Guardian’s Free and Fearless Quality Journalism campaign against ad blocking and G -Supportor programme presents a compelling argument to the visitor. The effectiveness of this campaign is unknown but it certainly is a low-risk way to start addressing the problem.

theguardian adblocker detected

theguardian supporter

Sites like The Telegraph and Conde Nast’s GQ are using the Payments from visitors approach, enforced with access denial. They use this approach as an opportunity to give the visitor a fair choice between – signing up for their paid subscription or disabling adblocker for their domain.

The telegraph blocking content when detects ad blocker

GQ blocks content when it detects an ad blocker

Forbes does it even better; they request the user to turn off the ad blocker and in exchange offer them an ad-light version(much like IAB’s L.E.A.N. philosophy).

Forbes detects adblocker

Between Dec. 17 to Jan. 3, Forbes offered about 2.1 million visitors using ad blockers this choice and about 42.4% thought this was a fair deal and turned off the blockers to receive the ad-light version.Forbes ad light 1

As a result of this change, Forbes monetized about 15 million ad impressions that would otherwise have been blocked. More information regarding this test here.

IAB has also included some Publisher case studies on their site and here’s an article that talks about other such examples and strategies that the top 50 websites have adopted.

Hope you have a productive week ahead!

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