Since 2013, the use of ad blockers has been growing by up to 40% year-on-year. These browser plugins have come to the rescue of millions of internet users that just want to read, stream and download without interruptions or distractions. Of course, for affiliate marketers like us, the increasingly mainstream adoption of ad blockers is a worrying trend that threatens to limit our potential returns more and more each year.
But the good news is that are ways to get around ad blockers and keep your conversion rate high. In this article, we’re going to take a look at ways to get around ad blockers – including the use of anti-ad blocker technology – to stop them killing your conversions.
Many internet users understandably see ads as irritants which disrupt their experience and possibly even slow down their ability to browse quickly. They also are wary of viruses being introduced with ads.
So, they choose to disable ads by using ad blockers, which are browser extensions or software plugins that either remove or change anything they identify as ads from web pages. Ad blockers can also block trackers, cookies, and third-party scripts. Their usual targets are banner ads, auto-playing videos, billboards, full-screen ads, sticky ads, pop-ups, and pop-unders.
While a web page is loading, ad blockers checks the site’s scripts. They filter these scripts according to the rules they were built with and block them. Although most ad blockers block all ads, some of them whitelist ads that follow the standards set by the Acceptable Ads Committee. Many web browsers have built-in mechanisms to block ads.
Impact of Ad Blockers on Marketing
Digital advertising spend is estimated to grow to US$517 billion by the end of 2023. The proliferation of mobile phones and the growing use of mobile Internet increases the need for and relevance of online advertising.
Moreover, unlike traditional mediums, online advertising has greater potential for accuracy and personalization of marketing efforts. Besides, all large Internet companies, such as Google and Facebook, are flourishing because of the revenues generated by ads.
Google’s publisher program, AdSense, helps millions of website owners earn their living by running contextual ads on their websites. However, the more the number of ads, the more the use of ad blockers, which is a challenge for you.
Ad blockers can block all ads on YouTube. They will not block ads within the timeline on Facebook, if they are on standard settings. However, users can block them using customized advanced settings on ad blockers.
Although your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings may not be affected by ad blockers, your SEO campaign can suffer. Although it may not be their default settings, users have the option of customizing ad blockers to block trackers and analytics tools. This prevents access to the data you need for adjustments to your campaigns.
Unlike websites, most mobile ad blockers block analytics tools by default. They automatically prevent communication with domains they identify as ad-related. Overall, this means that the tracking metrics could give you skewed results and you may miss out on leads.
Large companies are reportedly losing millions in revenue because of ad blocking, but if your firm is small or medium, the impact can be devastating. The sad reality is that you cannot beat the ad blockers. However, you can reduce their impact.
Effective Strategies to Overcome Ad Blocking
Not everyone is against advertising. Only when it affects their browsing do most people use stringent ad blocking. You can deal with ad blocking well if you place relevant and engaging ads that do not disrupt the user experience. Similarly, you can circumvent built-in ad block features in browsers by ensuring that your ads follow their standards.
The following are a few important strategies you can employ to bypass ad blocking.
Traditional online ads intentionally try to catch attention. They might move and use flashy and different colors to do so. They might also play a video or audio clip automatically. Blockers identify these kinds of ads quite easily.
Unlike traditional display ads, native ads blend into their background. The background could be websites or social media platforms or wherever they are placed. They do not disrupt user experience. Quite often, they are so unobtrusive and can be found only because sites place a tag that says they are promoted or sponsored.
When users click a native ad, it leads them to a page that resembles a blog post or article that can be shared. However, the post or article will contain some information about the product, service or brand that these ads promote.
They may also include a call to action (CTA), such as to sign up in exchange for a free e-book or to subscribe to a newsletter. Native ads are quite common and popular, especially on news or aggregate sites.
Native ads are expected to produce 74 percent of ad revenue by 2021 because their click-through rate (CTR) is four times more than non-native display ads. Regardless of whether they are sponsored or their format, native ads are sure to bring in revenue if they provide value to your viewers.
They create a positive impression among viewers because of four major factors. They are photos of people; large, understandable logos; shorter videos; and prominently placed brand names.
Some examples of native ads are Google search and Facebook in-feed ads.
Social Media Advertising
Given the worldwide penetration of social media and large number of active users on platforms, there is great potential for advertising on them.
It is quite easy to share, post or tweet messages about your brand, product or service without them resembling ads. Your marketing efforts seem part of the user experience and are even quite welcome, at times.
Similarly, on Twitter, you can use promoted tweets and hashtags; and on YouTube, banner and video ads. LinkedIn has become one of the most popular platforms to collect business leads, while Snapchat is popular with the younger generations. You can use the geofilters, stories and lenses Snapchat provides to spread awareness and increase business reach.
Although ad blockers can now block ads that appear in apps, you can provide users rewards, such as exclusive offers, downloadable templates, or free upgrades, in exchange for viewing your ads.
These are a great way to attract and retain the interest of people. If you engage them in captivating and enjoyable actions, they will enjoy your messages. This will prevent people from choosing to block your ads. You can use animations, 360-degree video, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR), to make wonderful interactive ads.
Alternatives to Ads and Ad Revenue Generation
You can use the following alternatives to advertisements if you are unable to evade ad blockers effectively.
Influencers are content creators or people with a large following on social media platforms and can influence the choices of their followers. You can tap into their social influence by partnering with them and getting them to promote, review or link to your brand or products.
Since such content is not an advertisement in any of the usual forms, ad blockers can do nothing against it. If you choose the platform and influencer best suited to your brand, your marketing content can bypass ad blockers and deliver your messages to a large majority of your target audience.
Almost 90 percent of all marketers consider the return on investment (ROI) from influencer marketing equal or better than other marketing methods.
Content marketing is one of the most effective tools in your digital marketing arsenal.
If you provide valuable, relevant, personalized content for free, you would be able to make people aware of your business and increase their engagement with it. Your brand will also have the reputation of being an authoritative and caring one.
You can create and share many types of content, including articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics to generate interest in your brand. Apart from these, you can release standalone products such as e-books, online courses, tools, extensions or apps.
Content marketing is not based on instant, impulsive clicks and conversions. It involves long-term, consistent efforts.
Email marketing is one of the most effective methods to connect with your target audience. You can use it to gather, engage, and educate leads and customers. If you use emails well, you can monetize them without them being blocked.
For example, you can use kinetic emails, instead of driving people to your website or landing page with CTAs on them. You can also set up an autoresponder to send them examples of your content. You can automate this process so that the right emails reach the intended audience.
This alternative depends on what your product or service is. For example, if you are an e-retail store, a membership package may not be well-received. On the other hand, if your website is known for great content that people enjoy, they may be ready to pay for exclusive content, such as an online course. This model is scalable and can be a recurring source of revenue.
Sponsored Content and Reviews
Sponsored content is content paid for by a sponsor. Although it is a form of advertising as far as the sponsor is concerned, the content is usually quite valuable. It can bring in more customers and increase the reputation of your website. Its CTR is also much higher than the traditional online ads.
However, if you intend to monetize your site using sponsored content, you should disclose your relationship with the sponsor clearly. You should also charge a rate that is fair to you and the sponsor.
Anti-Ad Blocking Technology
They first detect if visitors are using ad blockers. Some of them communicate with visitors and display simple notices or targeted messages to them. They caution visitors to unblock or whitelist ads. If they do not do so, the site becomes unavailable to them.
Some may show visitors complex messages with statistics on the impact of ad blockers to dissuade them from using them. Some others may be able to block ad blockers.
The idea behind this is to offer options and allow users to decide how site owners are paid rather than using technology to prevent ad blockers from working by encrypting ads and scrambling URLs as soon as a page loads.
Best Practices to Counter Ad Blocking
It is easy to understand why people use ad blockers when you see the large number of disruptive annoying ads that plague their online experience. The following best practices can help you to avoid being at the receiving end of ad blocking.
- Consider your target audience. Reach out to them wherever they are, with authentic content.
- Refrain from bombarding them with ads at all places and all times.
- Enhance user experience by using engaging, interactive ads that incorporate the latest technologies such as AR and VR.
- Offer content of relevance and value that reflects your site’s reputation.
- Use ethical ads that follow universally accepted standards.
- Target ads with more accuracy so that only those relevant to your target audience reach them.
- Focus on relevant keywords that best represent your website, products, services, and brand.
- Understand how ad blockers work to find ways to creatively evade them.
- Buy ad inventory with whitelisted networks.
- Use alternative advertising strategies, such as native advertising and influencer marketing.
- Implement paywalls on your site to make users pay to access content.
- Use services, such as Outbrain, which recommend sponsored content to users.
Given that people are actively using ad blockers, continuing to use traditional ads, such as popups, sidebars and banners, will do more harm than good. Instead you should endeavor to adapt to the changing face of advertising and engage people by providing them value and proving you are worthy of their trust. It is much better to make ad blockers irrelevant by improving your site and brand rather than trying to evade them.