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How Best to Manage Visitors With Ad Blocking Turned On
to stop or not to stop, that is the question
incrediBILL




msg:532294
 7:52 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Web sites that depend on advertising for revenue, like AdSense, seem to be at odds with freeloading surfers that use all the latest technology that blocks AdSense, affiliates and other ad technologies.

Unlike other media such as radio, TV, etc. we can actively sense when ads aren't being displayed on the web page which means we could prevent the content from displaying if the ads aren't displaying. The technology isn't that complicated to stop visitors with ad blockers from viewing the site and a simple technique could even be employed to detect the lack of javascript running.

I envision this freeload stopper showing an alternate page with something like:

"This web site uses modern web technologies and requires javascript to be enabled and banner blocking technology to be disabled."

The immediate worse case scenario I can see is some visitors which currently are non-revenue producing (no CPM ads, no CPC ads, nothing) are no longer permitted on the web site unless they permit ads to be displayed. Banning them would obviously have an impact on total web statistics of visitors/pages that some of us use for selling advertising but in reality these visitors weren't seeing those ads anyway so it's sort of a moot point except for marketing (aka bragging rights).

What do you think the repercussions would be to implement technology on a web site that would block visitors from viewing content if the surfer has AdSense blocked?

Would this possibly call undue attention to AdSense and provoke a invalid clicks by initially "blocked" visitors?

If you had the technology to block "freeloaders", would you use it?

 

alika




msg:532295
 8:05 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is the million-dollar question that every publisher has been asking, even before Adsense came along and ad stoppers are just starting to gain momentum.

My questions are:

- How big is the problem? How big (or small) is the percentage of people actually stopping Adsense from showing?
- Should this be a problem of the publisher or the ad network? After all, when their ads don't know, ads network like Google suffer in the same way if not more than publishers?

zCat




msg:532296
 8:09 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

What would interest me is some cold, hard statistics on what proportion of web users actually employ active ad blockers (as opposed to mere pop-up blockers). I would then work out whether the effort involved in blocking them has a positive ROI.

When I get too worried about these things I find it's a good idea to get out and mingle among normal websurfers (like your mom or dad) who don't know squat about things like cookies, and reflect on the fact that in most cases that's way more than 95% of your audience.

miguelito




msg:532297
 8:14 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

yeah but normal web surfers like mom and dad never get beyond their mail box or the yahoo news page

those whoa ctively seek info and visit diffeent sites are also more likely to emply blockers etc as they are aware of trends on the net

i can only say, donīt do what i did. My number 1 site is based on security and was established way before adsense...now of course, a lot of the users who visit it for info donīt use only adblockers, they also use damn proxys which is useless for us...they could very well be clicking but i will never see a penny of it...39% of the visitors connect via proxy! LOL

Dantol




msg:532298
 8:16 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Bill, I was ranting about this problem earlier. I agree with you that instead of banning these freeloaders, we should simply demand them to enable their javascript before they can use the content/services that we offer on our website. If they do not wish to enable their javascript, they are welcome to leave or stay. In case they decide to stay with their javascript disabled, the only thing they could look at will be blank page with the message: "In order to view our website properly, please enable Javascript."

[edited by: Dantol at 8:17 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2005]

[edited by: Woz at 2:21 am (utc) on Aug. 3, 2005]
[edit reason] Formatting [/edit]

jomaxx




msg:532299
 8:16 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't use it because
(a) nobody's going to uninstall or reconfigure software just to view your site, so the only purpose it really serves is to vent your frustration;
(b) many people don't have the knowledge or authorization to do that anyway;
(c) such traffic can still have beneficial results such as inbound links, word-of-mouth, or return visits from PCs that show ads;
(d) my site uses diverse revenue sources, including static ads;
(e) you'll be banning Googlebot and other desirable spiders unless you go to a further level of cloaking.

abbeyvet




msg:532300
 8:21 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I don't look on them as freeloaders, every user is a potential resource - maybe someone who will link to your site, tell a friend about your site, write about your site in a newspaper/magazine or otherwise prove to be an asset.

Even if using these blockers somehow became impossible overnight they would not click on ads anyway, which just makes them the same as the majority of your users. If you have 100,000 unique visitors in a month and 10,000 clicks that means at least 90% of your visitors may as well not have seen the ads.

Dantol




msg:532301
 8:24 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

(a) nobody's going to uninstall or reconfigure software just to view your site, so the only purpose it really serves is to vent your frustration;

I disagree. I get these types of messages all the time, including flash, java, etc.

(b) many people don't have the knowledge or authorization to do that anyway;

Warning message will contain simple instructions to enable Javascript.

(c) such traffic can still have beneficial results such as inbound links, word-of-mouth, or return visits from PCs that show ads;

Not really. Websites look ugly when javascript is disabled, because visitors are not able to see all the content properly aligned. Most of the times you even get ugly table allignments. Different websites are built with different technologies, and requirement to keep javascript enabled is nothing new.

(d) my site uses diverse revenue sources, including static ads;

Good. But I will stick with Adsense for a while.

(e) you'll be banning Googlebot and other desirable spiders unless you go to a further level of cloaking.

You will not ban Googlebot. Googlebot is not stupid. You will find thousands, if not millions of websites spidered by Google who require javascript enabled. When you click "cached" you will be able to view these websites, because Googlebot sees them. But when you go directly to these websites with javascript disabled, you will get message to enable your javascript.

bird




msg:532302
 8:29 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

For an advertizer, ad blockers are highly beneficial. They eliminate those impressions (and associtated costs) that are least likely to result in any sales. The more people use ad blockers, the higher the ROI for the advertizer will be. Consequently, the same advertizer will be ready to pay a higher price for the remaining impressions.

Instead of fighting ad blockers, publishers should encourage them, because they lead to higher ad rates.

incrediBILL




msg:532303
 8:31 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

(a) nobody's going to uninstall or reconfigure software just to view your site, so the only purpose it really serves is to vent your frustration;

It's not venting frustration, it's telling visitors there is no free lunch.

Letting them know the site uses ads to make money, you want the content you see the ads.

(b) many people don't have the knowledge or authorization to do that anyway;

The "you need to unblock" page could contain instruction for Norton Firewall, etc.

(c) such traffic can still have beneficial results such as inbound links, word-of-mouth, or return visits from PCs that show ads;

Yes, but what happens when the next version of IE blocks all ads? Firefox already has this capability so soon your revenue will dry up when everyone and everything blocks all ads by default.

(e) you'll be banning Googlebot and other desirable spiders unless you go to a further level of cloaking

Spiders would be allowed to visit the site, that's not a problem.

If you don't start fighting those blocking technologies now there may not be any revenue left when you decide it's time to fight this trend. Imagine if one large software release, let's say MS IE7, blocks all Google Ads by default when it launches. Of all companies, MS might benefit in the long term from blocking these "insecure ad technologies" and then put out some new offering of their own.

Not a sky is falling mentality, but the ad blocking trends are becoming increasingly alarming and if publishers don't do something proactive to educate our visitors of what keeps us in business the ad networks could collapse.

That would leave the few of us still standing either running sites for free or adopting subscription models and we know how well THAT works.

abbeyvet




msg:532304
 8:34 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I disagree. I get these types of messages all the time, including flash, java, etc.

Presumably since you get them all the time that means you don't bother to go and obediently install whatever you are told to. Do you seriously imagine that people do?

if publishers don't do something proactive to educate our visitors of what keeps us in business the ad networks could collapse.

Would they care? They can just hit the back button and find another site.

That would leave the few of us still standing either running sites for free or adopting subscription models and we know how well THAT works.

Which once again points out the folly of relying on adsense or advertising generally as a long-term business model.

[edited by: abbeyvet at 8:38 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2005]

Zygoot




msg:532305
 8:36 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think it is best not to block users who use adblockers, unless you really can't afford your webhosting costs anymore due to enormous bandwidth costs.

I believe users who block ads are much less likely to click on ads. And while they don't provide you direct revenue they might give you indirect revenue by referring your site to their friends, giving you a link on a website/forum, ...

The technology isn't that complicated to stop visitors with ad blockers from viewing the site and a simple technique could even be employed to detect the lack of javascript running.

Many people who block ads do have JavaScript enabled. Many websites require JavaScript for various features. Most people who block JavaScript to this to avoid potential security risks.

zCat




msg:532306
 8:36 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

yeah but normal web surfers like mom and dad never get beyond their mail box or the yahoo news page

Sure they do. I'm not talking about your parents, or even mine. What`s more they`re likely to spend more time on the page (rather than skimming it like I or many people here do) and have their curiosity aroused by those short, framed, on-target text-messages.

(The trick with parents and the like - apart from keeping your own sites secret from them so they don't get silly ideas about clicking the ads to "help", I'm sure my mom thinks I run porn sites - is to keep their pesky Windows installations running and free of infestation for the greater good of ad-displaying website owners ;-).

Of course if your'e content's aimed at tech-savvy browsers then you have a different set of problems.

I'm still interested in some hard figures on adblockers in general - anyone? If the sky is falling I`d like to know too.

incrediBILL




msg:532307
 8:38 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

For an advertizer, ad blockers are highly beneficial. They eliminate those impressions (and associtated costs) that are least likely to result in any sales

How do you know people blocking ads are least likely to result in sales?

My mom didn't even realize she wasn't seeing ads as Norton Firewall just blocked them for her until I showed her otherwise. I'll bet quite a few less savvy people don't know their firewall is doing this either.

Heck, when I installed IE6 the first time I vaguely remember the security settings cranked up so high I didn't see banner ads on my own web site.

So we're supposed to just let our revenue streams shrink and diminish without a fight?

Educating consumers that content isn't free doesn't seem to be so harsh to me as people are used to seeing ads in newspapers, magazines, etc. but only on the net can they be blocked and let the CONSUMER, not the publisher, control the content of the page!

I'm thinking it's time to start educating the consumers and stop the blocking.

Dantol




msg:532308
 8:43 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Presumably since you get them all the time that means you don't bother to go and obediently install whatever you are told to. Do you seriously imagine that people do?

These are bare basics: javascript, java, and flash capabilities. Do people do it? Anyone I know does it. Even my boss who knows absolutely nothing about computers.

Would they care? They can just hit the back button and find another site.

Yes, but they come to our website for a reason. They like our services. As I said earlier, if they do no wish to enable their javascript, they are free to leave. Nobody is going to hold a gun to their head.

Zygoot




msg:532309
 8:44 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you don't start fighting those blocking technologies now there may not be any revenue left when you decide it's time to fight this trend. Imagine if one large software release, let's say MS IE7, blocks all Google Ads by default when it launches. Of all companies, MS might benefit in the long term from blocking these "insecure ad technologies" and then put out some new offering of their own.

You're right, it would be a total disaster as more than 85 percent of all internet users use IE.

It would be damn nasty but by launching a new browser with all ads disabled by default, except those from Microsoft, they could really catch the entire online advertising market in a few months time.

incrediBILL




msg:532310
 8:48 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm still interested in some hard figures on adblockers in general - anyone? If the sky is falling I`d like to know too.

I'm working on getting some real hard stats on my site but it's looking like about 10% are blocking affiliate banners as AdSense seems to be getting more impressions than banners and my direct text ads are getting the most.

We aren't talking megabucks in lost revenue, but even if it's just 10% then a site making $5K/month would be potentially losing about $500/month in unrealized revenue.

Maybe the first phase of blocking freeloaders would be to just deploy the technology to COUNT the missing ads and see what the damage looks like.

Swebbie




msg:532311
 8:48 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I highly suspect that Google is aware of and ahead of this phenomenon. So much is riding on AW for them, and therefore on AS, that I would be hugely surprised if they didn't find a way to get around that problem, if it grows to the point of hurting their business significantly. I'm not concerned.

sailorjwd




msg:532312
 8:55 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Golly!

There is a silver lining to the Bourbon update...

Since I don't get any free visitors any more and they only come from clicking an Ad (98% anyway) I guess I don't have many freeloaders.

Finally I can let you guys with some free traffic worry about someting :)

Iguana




msg:532313
 8:58 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

What about banning the freeloaders who block popup ads as well? Or the ones who use firewalls and anti-virus software and Windows update to keep free of those adware infections?

bird




msg:532314
 8:58 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

but the ad blocking trends are becoming increasingly alarming and if publishers don't do something proactive to educate our visitors of what keeps us in business the ad networks could collapse.

Such an "increasingly alarming trend" would simply mean that your visitors are voting with their feet. Solution: Stop annoying your visitors.

As you might know: A happy visitor will tell one friend about your site. An annoyed visitor will tell 7 of his friends not to go there.

How does that affect your business strategy?

incrediBILL




msg:532315
 9:03 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Would they care? They can just hit the back button and find another site.

OK, imagine if all the advertisers currently earning from AdSense stopped making any money whatsoever, or maybe only 50% or 25% of their previous earnings if the situation got drastic. So you think in that circumstance hitting the back button would find a useful site not blocking freeloaders?

Let's face it, the internet as we knew it as a random bunch of free pages is being/has been replaced by what I call the ADVERNET where all content worth anything is either advertising revenue based or subscription based.

Either the publishers will take control of this situation before it gets too far out of control or we'll all be looking for day jobs again.

creepychris




msg:532316
 9:06 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

As someone said, word of mouth marketing: I may not get the ad blockers revenue, but I might get their non blocking friends' revenue.

incrediBILL




msg:532317
 9:07 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Such an "increasingly alarming trend" would simply mean that your visitors are voting with their feet. Solution: Stop annoying your visitors.

You miss the point altogether, the banners are blocked before they ever come to my sight.

You can't annoy someone that never sees the ads in the first place!

Since I don't get any free visitors any more and they only come from clicking an Ad (98% anyway) I guess I don't have many freeloaders.

That depends, if they come direct from Google the ad blocking wouldn't stop them from seeing the ads on Google's site, only the content network.

[edited by: incrediBILL at 9:09 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2005]

bonanza




msg:532318
 9:08 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

People who actively install adblock software and plugins are very motivated to not see ads. They are adamant about their right to use adblock software (I know because I've engaged with them on a site prompting for feedback on this exact issue -- it's a lost cause.)

Banning them and calling them freeloaders doesn't help anybody. The Internet's a big place. There's nothing you have that will change the mind of an active adblocker.

My mom didn't even realize she wasn't seeing ads as Norton Firewall just blocked them for her until I showed her otherwise. I'll bet quite a few less savvy people don't know their firewall is doing this either.

This is the crux of the issue to me. There are a large number of people, like IncrediBILL's mom (IncrediMOM?) who have software running like NIS that block ads by default with some very aggressive (and arbitrary) block lists. To the user there is no indication that anything's getting blocked, not even an indication during software installation. The primary purpose of the software is a firewall. Who do they think they are to block ads by default? Are they doing the world a favor? I'd say that's one misguided product development team.

Buford




msg:532319
 9:09 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

but only on the net can they be blocked and let the CONSUMER, not the publisher, control the content of the page!

That's one of the advantages of it. No longer is the viewer locked into seeing content the way the designer wants them to see it. Far from being detrimental, this allows better flow of information as browsers can use all sorts of tricks to make the useful content easier to read and cut the crap that some designers shove on their pages.

Yes, I use AdSense. Honestly, I make diddly squat from it. However, I support ad blockers because it is the end user who does and should have control over how they see the content on their screen, and some advertising is downright annoying. Throwing all sorts of Javascript crap in a page to cripple it for non-JS enabled browsers is only shooting yourself in the foot as it breaks accessibility and decent browsers (Firefox, for example) have the ability - either built in or as an extension - to selectively block some JavaScript without outright turning it all off. Making your content hard to access is a good way to alienate your audience and they'll simply go elsewhere or work around your attempts to cripple it.

bonanza




msg:532320
 9:17 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

You can't annoy someone that never sees the ads in the first place!

But they are already annoyed. A subset of the website-owner community brought this on with not only popups, but with ads that flash, vibrate, jiggle, and flap at us.

This is a very deep hole to climb out of. Especially when some of us are still digging.

incrediBILL




msg:532321
 9:17 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

If they do not wish to enable their javascript, they are welcome to leave or stay.

I somewhat blocked people not using javascript a while back but not intentionally. My site navigation became so huge I moved it from a long menu to a few drop down lists with automatic navigation via javascript when you change the selected topic. If you don't have javascript enabled you can't easily navigate and would have to jump back to my home or site map page before you could go to any other page which is a royal pain.

sailorjwd




msg:532322
 9:23 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

The content on my site took a couple of thousand hours to develop - 4 part time years. I don't want to give it away for free. Before you ask - I used get consulting contracts from the visitors but stopped that recently--.

As soon as someone can show me how to block those non-ad-viewers consider them blocked.

alwaysthinking




msg:532323
 9:29 pm on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

incrediBILL _ I share the same concern as you. But I think Google is also aware of the potential reduction of earnings if the percentage of users with java-disabled browsers became notably high. As it stands now, I have a "tech oriented" site and about 6% of my visitors have javascript disabled...

And of course it tend to be the techies that want to LEECH information from my site for free. It's the same crowd who want to earn millions for themselves on the Net, yet expect everything else to be free.

However I don't think this is sound economics as it will not allow the current variety of quality content to be available for all to "freely" view, without paying subscription. People would be HOWLING if EVERY web site overnight began to demand subscription fees for viewing their content.

I am COUNTING on Google to be developing a tech solution to this potential problem, and I suspect it would be replacing Javascript with some other sort of medium to embed their ads on publishers' web sites.

This 198 message thread spans 7 pages: 198 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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