How Do Ad Blockers Work? 

An ad blocker is an application or software program designed to stop or change advertising content on the Internet. These ad blockers, sometimes referred to as content blockers, compare scripts and elements from a page with a list of scripts and elements it was designed to block and keeps them from appearing on the page.

Currently the most popular ad blocker, AdBlock Plus, uses a filter system that denies website requests to show or play ads. Sometimes blank spaces appear where the ads would normally appear but the app can also remove these elements from web pages, leaving behind any trace of the ad. 

What Does an Ad Blocker Block? 

Not all ad blockers block the same types of ads, however. Some only block those that are deemed “malvertising”, that is, ads that pose a security threat to the user – while others may completely remove all advertising from a webpage, including video and sound. Additionally, some advertising networks are whitelisted by ad blocking apps and software, such as Google. In cases like these, the advertiser has paid to be whitelisted. 

Auto-play, animated and oversized image ads that take away from the main content are just a few examples of the kinds of ads AdBlock Plus prevents from loading. Others include overlay, pop-up and even pre-roll video ads. 

However, no matter what format an ad takes, the whole point is to remove anything that the user finds to be excessive, annoying or irrelevant.

Why Do People Use Ad Blockers? 

Reasons for using ad blockers include loading speed issues, excessive number of ads and privacy or malware concerns. Users also feel that ads slow down their browsers and too often they obstruct a page’s main content. As of 2019, nearly 30% of all Internet users use ad blockers. 

What You Can Do

  • Block access to content unless users whitelist your site. Many sites employ this strategy so they don’t need to change their current revenue model. However, although there are those who are willing to whitelist your site or even pay a small fee to access your site without ads, a recent report suggests that 74% of users leave the site as a result. As long as you are prepared to lose some of your revenue, this stands as one option. 

  • Invest in influencer marketing. This may or may not make sense for your particular product or service. But as an example, if you’re an energy company and you’re active in helping or giving back to your community, forming a partnership with an environmental or humanitarian entity may be a good way to gain some positive awareness for your brand. This tactic isn’t directly tied to immediate sign-ups or purchases like advertising per se, but it can be a highly effective part of a larger strategy to build awareness, authority and trustworthiness of your brand. 

  • Diversify your content. Consider scaling back your paid advertising and spend more time building in areas like social, search and content marketing. It is proven that unique, high-quality content delivers. In fact, it can generate up to 3x more leads per dollar spend than paid search ads and can produce up to 6x higher conversion rates when compared to other methods according to Content Marketing Institute. However, it’s important to understand that content marketing, social and search are longer term strategies that are based on forming trust, authority and relationships which can later transform into greater revenue.

  • Consider native advertising. Provide content that has a similar look and feel as the content the user is already consuming. “In Feed” ads, search and promoted listings and content recommendations are all examples of native advertising that are much less intrusive and likely to receive a more positive, engaged response. As a matter of fact, native ads can yield click-through rates that are 4x higher than non-native display ads, and according to Business Insider, they’re predicted to generate 74% of ad revenue by 2021.

The implementation of ad blocking apps and software is a response from users who feel inundated with ads that are irrelevant, intrusive and annoying. Consider this powerful feedback as an opportunity to review the effectiveness of your ad campaigns and whether it’s time to invest in other areas or consider other strategies. 

Also see: 

  • Pay per click (PPC)
  • Advertising network
  • Incentivized traffic