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IAB Closely Monitoring The Effects of Ad Blockers

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

     
5:06 pm on Sep 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The recent hot topic here of "Ad Blocking Report - 22 billion in lost revenue" [webmasterworld.com] generated much discussion, not least the claims of the total lost revenue potential. That figure estimated is plucked from the air as nobody really knows the real figure. However, what we all know is that ad blocking is becoming more prevalent, and that has a number of implications. Advertisers will suffer because their ads are not seen by potential customers. Agents, Google and Bing will earn less revenue, therefore it may impact their ad-based offerings. Publishers will lose a revenue stream, and that may also impact their content. Smaller publishers in the AdSense arena may simply go out of business. For some publishers that's going to be painful, and for users we may lose an information resource.

When an organisation such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) starts monitoring the effect closely, you know ad blocking is becoming a major concern. Calls for lawsuits over ad blocking are way over the top, imho, but the discussion about loss of earnings, from wherever you sit, is going to continue for some time.

"We started taking a look at the remainder of 2015, and the ad-blocking conversation got ratcheted up based on what we were hearing from publishers and their data and the rise of [ad-blocking] incident rates they were seeing," said Scott Cunningham, a senior VP at the IAB and general manager of the trade organization's Technology Lab. IAB Closely Monitoring The Effects of Ad Blockers [adage.com]


Ad-Supported Products and Services: Has it Had its Day [webmasterworld.com].

What do you plan to do to overcome the threat to your income?

[edited by: engine at 1:37 pm (utc) on Sep 8, 2015]

5:27 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I've denied access to adblock users, who at last check were running at about 25% of all visitors. They get redirected to a landing page and asked politely to disable their adblocker if they want to access my sites. Not an ideal solution but one that seems to be working (more visitors are whitelisting and entering than are shying away).

I'll be trialling a paywall on one of my content-heavy sites, starting January 2016. I've also got my dev looking at a solution where premium subscribers view an ad-free site, while everyone else sees it with ads.

Other possible solutions, like server-side advertising and ad-content merging, won't really work for me. My sites contain reference material and technical guides, so they don't lend themselves to those forms of monetisation.

Whichever way I choose to go, no adblock users will be accessing my content, period.
5:53 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hopefully, before the adblocker population reaches 50% (and at the rate of take up of the tool(s) that might be just bare years away) the advertising side will have to address this and devise a new method of serving ads, perhaps with different guidelines for insertion and display included.

As the tool is not going away, webmasters who rely on ad revenue should explore alternatives for third party injection or script ads. A number of suggestions for those possibilities were discussed, at length, in the above named thread.

Adblocking, in some countries, are higher than others. The EU, for example, is somewhere around 29% while the USA is a bit above 25%, so this activity is not limited to any single geophysical location.

Each webmaster will make their own decisions in how to deal with this USER INSTALLED tool.... and that is as it should be.
7:07 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I would expect Google to come up with something before this gets too out of hand. But if Google doesn't, then I have diversified enough over the last year so that the end of Adsense will not be the end of me.
7:58 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Most of my traffic is mobile but I don't really want to pony up to have an app created, so I'm thinking about how I can actually turn some of my sites into a web app of sorts, with no ads and some extra personalization features for those who are willing to pay a couple of bucks a year for it. I get enough traffic that I think it could be commensurate with AdSense, but I won't know for sure unless I try it.
8:10 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Is anyone considering trying to get more direct advertisers? Although I suppose their ads would also get stripped by ad blockers. The ones who advertise through Adwords' display network will need somewhere else to go if their ads stop showing on publisher sites.
8:38 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm always looking for more direct advertisers, but yes, the ad blockers seem to strip those too.

Even if I do implement a paid subscription model, I'm a long way from going ad-free.
10:01 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Though it might be appropriate in a new thread, this report from the Register speaks directly to this subject.

[theregister.co.uk...]
10:09 pm on Sept 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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[ibtimes.com ]

Chrome not letting users block ads on youtube.com.
2:50 am on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Most of our revenue comes from relevant affiliate links (many of our readers are researching purchases), so our one AdSense unit per page is icing on the cake. If the icing gets two thin, we'll toss the AdSense decorating bag. (So far, so good, though. Maybe our readers aren't the kind of people who install ad blockers.: they're pretty mainstream, by and large.)

I suspect that the threat from ad blockers has been overblown, but maybe the chatter about ad blockers will serve as a warning to publishers who have gone overboard with too many ads and--even more important--too many annoying ads. (Interstitials are everywhere, and pop-ups seem to be enjoying a resurgence--especially as house ads for newsletter sign-ups.)
4:34 am on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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When one looks at a number like 18million new adblockers since 2013, and that number going leaps and bounds right now, it is easy to see why the conversation is coming almost daily. The different reports from mainstream, tech, security, advertising, etc. indicate the breadth of the concerns (or joy, depends on who's writing what) of users, advertisers, and websites.

At present there is no perfect way to deal with this fact of life, other than recognize that it does exist and is not getting smaller. Also a recognition that many browsers, which have long had basic ad blocking capabilities in the late 1990s, are now coming out with the options activated by default ... and this before add on extension blockers are installed by users, business IT, edu, government, isps, mobile (where data use it really important) and on down the line. Some are pushing for negative data plans for advertising over any network, claiming it as already been paid for, why pay for it a second time in both fees and cost of delivery?

It is not a small problem.

One thing is certain, that any declaration of war usually means war. If the web publishers escalate or become extreme, the push back will become even more so.

Given that possibility, find those alternate income streams. There are a number out there now. There are some out there not being discussed because some (like me) want to make hay while the sun shines and before every Tom, Dick, and Harry climb on board and the metrics kill the golden goose.

For everything that exists, there is an optimal number which produces good revenue. Once that market becomes saturated and goods outpace demand, there is a corresponding market down turn.
5:53 am on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I can't do anything about it. Or let's say it's not worth worrying about until Google cares enough about it. If they don't care or do anything, then they essentially have "mailed it in" with Adsense. That would speak volumes to the longevity of this monetization plan. As this goes, so do I. My plan is to wait and see. Oh, I shouldn't say that. The lousy forecast has ultimately led me to shutting down plans and letting a few websites die off. I think we can see this play out and the hypocritical nature of being whitelisted and publishers running their own ads not being whitelisted. Or as it's been said, YouTube not being affected? I see some real PR and legality issues coming up. Great cinema. Do nothing drastic, that's my plan. Work less on sites is part of the current strategy because investing time in a POS is just that. The loss of money is completely overblown. However, when normal people get these adblockers, those were the people who might have clicked ads. If they are being advised or peer pressured into installing an ad blocker, that's when true money is being lost. The people who sought out the technology were lost souls to begin with. Tire kickers as it were.
6:32 am on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I mistakenly posted this in another thread:

Users say that preroll ads on YouTube are now playing in full and that even the Skip Now option, allowing them to dispense with the ads after only a few seconds, has been disabled.


As I've been saying since day one, one of the natural outcomes of adblocking will be for ads to become even more aggressively integrated into content. A tech friend of mine reckons Google/Youtube will probably start dropping full ads into uploaded videos during rendering, possibly while offering ad-free versions to its paid subscribers. Good luck blocking those.
12:53 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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would google take action at all? i mean, the publisher network got less and less important as a revenue stream for them over the years. instead there's their own properties like search and youtube. i don't see google helping publishers out with alternative ad serving.
2:21 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I would expect Google to come up with something before this gets too out of hand


would google take action at all?


To save themselves yes, Google took action. To save their publishers, no. Google paid the Ad Blockers for a lifeboat off of the ad blocker system. Google left their publisher partners to drown. What kind of partnership is that?

One could say that the ads shown on publisher sites were too flashy and didn't qualify. But they could have folded publishers into the agreement who opted for Text Ads only. But that would kill their display ad business, which is getting killed by ad blockers anyway. So Google opted to sell out their partners with slum-level ads that don't qualify for ad blocking immunity. Google can be the hero and show text ads while profiting on slummy fat belly advertising on their partner sites. The end result is that the little guys who can't pay the ad blocker ransoms get screwed, and Google participated in the screwing.

What is IAB going to do about it? Will they stand up for the little guy? Do you think they will?
2:46 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Anyone who bases their future with relation to adblockers upon G ( or any other big Ad system ) fighting for them..is going to continue to be collateral damage..the little guys ( and girls ) are on their own..
3:24 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm not as worried about ad blockers as I am about the new metric in my AdSense reports "Active View Viewable". That's running about 35%. Now it's possible some of that is due to ad blockers (my audiences track more to soccer moms than tech types, so I don't think ad blockers are as much of an issue as they are for some) but I think *most* of it is because so much of my traffic is mobile, and there are tons of issues with mobile, from ad placement, to the fact that people generally don't want to click on ads on their phones. So THAT is the main reason I am pursuing alternate monetization. I think the ad blockers are a losing battle that's already half lost.

Oh, and envintus passed this one on to me today too:

Adblock Browser officially launches on iOS and Android [engadget.com]
4:06 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Netmeg, and with that release it only goes to make mobile advertising even tougher. Mobile has been the big growth area, even if it's failing to live up to the same profitability of desktop.
8:20 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Ad blockers are here to stay. I don't think Google or any other organization can magically make people want to see ads, especially when there are plugins available for web browsers such as Google's own Chrome.
8:25 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Now we have Ad-block for IOS and Android.

[goo.gl...]

This is getting out of hand quick!
I think that in the future, I will block access for users with ad-block.

In the end, those are freeloaders!
8:27 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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G here, G there. Google ain't gonna do nothing for us, you, nobody, only for them. There is little way for us to know what's really going on with such intermediary in the middle, I can't trust or believe how many apples they pass not knowing how many they keep.

Adblockers are evil but... Can't say this is not hurting my income but honestly when I take the ads off I get it right away. But can't say I fully disagree. From a simple and harmless ad slot... things have turn into several multi Kbytes things that slow pages down. There is not really a good standard and I do believe testing the same site with and without ads lets us see a huge difference on performance, let's not forget bit by bit the bandwidth consumption and battery life wasted there, sure I sound pessimistic and alarming about this is not exactly as tv ads/time, etc.

If we all had better ads in terms of performance, size, speed etc, I believe we wouldn't mind so much (as users) about it, then a lot of people wouldn't matter so much about it, etc.

Want the shorter version? me as website owner, publisher, etc. will have a very different attitude about the ads as a direct advertiser: quality here, quality there, speed, size, no to this, no to that, yes to this yes to that. But when we insert code and they handle the ads they put things there we wouldn't agree on technical or design aspects.
8:44 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I would expect Google to come up with something before this gets too out of hand.


Google already has, or is quite close to their own solutions.

Big old heavy Youtube is just one of those battle grounds -- Google has already been waging it's war against the adblockers by working to make people sit through the entire 3 minute commercial that Google embeds into a video for those who have adblockers.

IMHO I don't think adblockers are as much of a problem as those are who don't have the money or the time to even click on those annoying spammy ads ..

Notice the revenue projections for ads just keeps going up year after year? Whilst incomes are stagnant and nobody has the fortitude to drive themselves deeper into debt? The projections would be quite a bit lower if the ad systems weren't being so abused by the publishers.

So lets all just hammer away at the adblockers, shall we?

Adblockers are good and bad all at the same time .. But my money says that the way these ads are delivered days are numbered -- not too unlike the days of the ever infamous pop-ups ..

The masses are moving beyond the ad delivery technologies of a bygone era .. Now it's time for those who drill ads into everything they can around the net to come up with a better more practical solution for delivering their spam.
9:33 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Complacency is about the only word I can come up with.
9:36 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I am going throw a little wrench into the wheel here:

Where were ALL the Publishers when "Do Not Track program" was all over the news? Why, oh why is every body is so surprised now?
9:53 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Advertising got so intrusive and obnoxious I made my own set of filters. It's called market reaction. The moment, however grey, you decided to make your advertising revenue more important than your content was one of the drops of rain who like every precious raindrop declared that they weren't responsible for the flood.

I personally tend to donate to other developers who make useful stuff and if it's a bit much I wait until I get to the point where I can donate. I haven't found any use for content behind pay walls though I'm much more of a producer than consumer and I think if people don't learn to engage in subtle advertising (and by that I don't mean mixing advertisements in to content, that is just as bad) but good placement yet not animated or distracting is the way to go. But since everyone has to have a bigger boat that is why things got out of hand.

It's the sane thing with obnoxious mailing list forms the first moment / page I visit a website. Put that damn thing in a form on your aside element and if I really think your site is that level of high quality I'll sign up. But seeing as how on the side I've helped numerous computer clients with numerous issues such as 20K+ emails with lots of them being weekly if not outright daily it's pretty much mandatory to require either an explicit declaration of how frequent emails will be or allow a select menu with an option if such an option can be made available.

Moral of the story is don't complain if you are your own undoing.

John
10:09 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Now we have Ad-block for IOS and Android.

[goo.gl...]

This is getting out of hand quick!
I think that in the future, I will block access for users with ad-block.

The UA string is pretty clean:
Mozilla/5.0 (Android; Mobile; rv:40.0) Gecko/40.0 Firefox/40.0
11:53 pm on Sept 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Where were ALL the Publishers when "Do Not Track program" was all over the news? Why, oh why is every body is so surprised now?

You make a good point and a point that many webmasters overlook. For many end users, blocking ads is also about protecting their privacy. Anytime those third party ads load, it sends a wealth of information back home. Imagine how much data can be compiled from a single static IP address. At home, I've had the same cable provider for years and the dynamic IP address changes maybe once a year.

As far as I am concerned, privacy pages provide after the event notification of how ads are tracking us. By the time we as end users visit a privacy policy page, we've already triggered numerous ads within that same site. The only way to be proactive in safeguarding our privacy is to block as much noise and nonsense from the start. My aggressive and custom configured ad blocker will remain on, which I also use at work and provide to my family and friends. If a site I visit restricts content because of my ad blocker use, I move onto the next site and don't think twice about it.

There are many nails in the coffin when it comes to ads. Will it mean an end to MFA websites and those that recompile and regurgitate information from actual sources? Probably not. But it will significantly downsize the industry and hopefully teach a lesson that content comes before ads. And hopefully some of the more liberal ad policies, such as four, five, etc. ad units per page, will be downsized to a level that end users find more tolerable. Stop the data mining too, and some may turn off their ad blockers or at least disable them on websites the frequent often.
3:09 am on Sept 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I've denied access to adblock users... no adblock users will be accessing my content, period.

Emperor's new clothes
4:37 am on Sept 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This is like X entity trying to fix some country problems, it's not up to them on the advertising world,

I'm having trouble explaining in short a complex thought here, but anyway it's simple: I bet if we put on the shoes of our constant visitors we also get tired of the ads on our own sites... maybe, maybe... I sure look at my sites as prettier, faster and better user experience without the ads, can't beat that instant conclusion.

There is a line and only the site owner can make it clear and make it respectable. We all would be out of here (the forum) if it was alike the average sites around.
5:46 am on Sept 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The mainstream use or installing of adblock software is the real issue. Those would be the ad clicking people. People with a bit of tech know-how have been using them, but I would say those are not lost clicks because they aren't the types who click ads. Hence, they sought out the software. With a media blitz, the dummies out there try them out and those were the "dummies" clicking ads and or affiliate links. If we see a report with a spike in lost revenue it's because average people have learned about them and started using them. When the tech dummies start getting steered into adblocking, then that will be the tipping point. The lost revenue numbers might actually start meaning something.
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