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Today, Adblock and other ad blockers are commonplace and indispensable components of the digital advertising industry. Blockers were created as a response to excessive advertisements on websites; they are specifically designed to prevent intrusive ads from displaying. But ad blockers shouldn’t be viewed as being inherently good or evil. In this article, we look at the many aspects of Adblock and its influence on internet advertising overall, particularly on CPA marketing and CPA tracking.
Adblock and CPA marketing
The explosive increase in internet devices, internet users and different ad blocking solutions is driving the adoption of tools that selectively or completely block Internet advertising on users’ screens. At the same time, we also see the continuous development of blockers’ technical features and abilities to filter out intrusive ads, allowing them to selectively exclude unwanted advertisements.
And while user demand for blocking intrusive ads drives adblock software development, there is a counter effect to this trend, too. Publishers are developing new technical solutions to ensure that their ads are impervious to blockers, thus protecting the publishers’ ad revenues.
Successful publishers now optimize traffic processing within the current adblock ecosystem. In this respect, it makes sense to observe and evaluate the competitive advantages of the CPA marketing business model as one of the best solutions for successful interactions with ad blockers. In most cases, along with targeted traffic, suitable offers and built-in promos (primarily, DeepLink), this model is much more profitable in comparison to “traditional” banners.
Ad blocking: origin of the trend
Many web pages today are overloaded with intrusive ads and the quantity of the ads has negatively influenced the quality of the information that is displayed.
The aggressive expansion of pop-unders and click-unders are precisely what has led to an imbalance between ads and free content.
This imbalance has become even more pronounced since the development of mobile technologies. It is indeed an awkward experience when advertisements aren’t optimized for mobile devices.
In 2016, PageFair, a company that monitors ad blocking and looks for solutions to minimize risks from adblock technologies, noted a 30% increase in the use of adblock programs globally, influenced by the popularization of mobile devices among Internet users.
According to PageFair’s December 2016 data, Adblock has a 6% presence in Russia, 13% in Ukraine, 10% in Belarus and 3% in Kazakhstan.
PageFair data on US use shows that males are the largest group of ad blocker users, across all age groups.
In January 2017, Adblock’s agenda was updated with statements from established advertisers and brand managers who supported the qualitative improvement of advertisements to increase sales and build a transparent and clear ad ecosystem.
Currently, advertisers want to regain the loyalty of customers all over the world and improve the quality of the advertising infrastructure. Publishers don’t want to lose out on traffic monetization. A solution that meets the needs of the users, the advertisers and the publishers is needed.
Who are the main ad blockers?
There are two types of ad blockers: the first create black lists and only eliminate the unwanted portion of ads. The second type, works according to the “all or none” principle; these block all unknown advertising objects. And the boundary between “all” and “none” is pretty thin.
For example, both types of blockers can block code called from the Google Tag Manager container (GTM). But at the same time, tracking codes that “do no harm” with ads, and ad codes that can cover up your whole page with adult content banners, can be called from the GTM container.
When an ad blocker blocks hit counter codes called from GTM, advertisers receive no analytical data in their statistics. This leads to a difficult and open question: how do we work with traffic and conversions in this scenario? One solution would be to place the codes directly on the web page, not through the GTM container. This requires hours of work for qualified programmers, who are difficult to find and charge exorbitant fees.
There is another scenario regarding GTM and e-commerce stores which is harmful for both online retailers and their users. Periodically, Internet retailers launch promotions and announce these sales using banners on their home pages. Some of these retailers do so using a GTM container. But users with an enabled adblocker will not be able to view the promotional banner because of the ad blockers. The user can’t tell there is a sale; the retailer loses out on a sale.
Ad blockers and publishers
The percentage of blocked content on various websites varies depending on the subject matter and the audience. Online games and websites with lots of tech content are geared towards a sophisticated audience, which often uses adblocking programs. On the other hand, the audience for a fashion blog rarely uses any extensions to block ads. User gender is also a factor, because men install adblocking programs more often than women.
PageFair research shows that 23% of the 200 web users it surveyed use adblocking extensions (on average).
Affiliates earn more than 90% of their revenue through deeplink — their ads are all but secure from ad blockers (at least, in admitad), and publishers rarely encounter problems with adblockers during the placement of ads on their websites.
But in some cases, the target actions on advertiser websites can be omitted, as we discuss this in more detail on our blog.
If a target action is not tracked, both the publisher and the affiliate network will lose money on target traffic. To avoid gains and losses when there is an increasing number of people using adblockers, publishers should facilitate an open and honest dialog with users. If an adblocker is enabled in a browser, publishers should ask to disable it because it “interferes with the site’s proper operation.” But publishers should never block or hide useful content on their sites.
The disabling of an ad blocker should be a request, not a demand. Try to communicate with users, and educate them to properly use the tools created for the existing advertisement market.
Admitad and Adblock
“Using admitad, we regularly perform experiments to test various current banners, ad links on pages and different browser extensions to avoid real content and tracking target actions being blocked,” said Alexander Blokhin, Head of Tracking Department at admitad. “This helps discover and resolve issues our advertisers and publishers encounter even faster.” admitad connects publishers and advertisers globally for secure and profitable CPA marketing activities.
According to a data analysis in May 2017, the default, built-in Opera ad blocker and uBlock Origin with the enabled privacy option both block GTM. If an advertiser is integrated through use of the Google Tag Manager and this still occurs, then a certain set of parameters (Opera or uBlock Origin) is causing the tracking pixel calls to be blocked. In the browser console, it would look like this:
According to Liveinternet, Opera’s worldwide share is estimated to be 1.2%. This allows us to estimate how much money publishers and affiliate networks could lose on users with this browser. Of course, the example is much more pronounced, but as a rough estimate, we can use the 3.4% as the monetary amount lost from total profit (providing the advertiser is integrated through GTM). With large volumes, admitad views small numbers in absolute values.
But when testing plugins such as Adblock, AdBlock Plus, Privacy Bagger, Ghostery, FairAdBlock and SimpleAdBlock with default settings, tracking code calls are not blocked.
To give you an idea of percentages detected, here is some sample data on active ad blockers found in the browsers of advertiser website visitors across various segments from the admitad traffic channel:
In lieu of a summary
“I believe it is crucial to create an open ecosystem, adapted for all participants, through the joint efforts of several large players from different sides. We must have an open dialog with ad blocker software representatives who are responsible for setting the blockage rules”, says admitad CEO Alexander Bachmann.
“It is also necessary to block what is referred to as ‘unwanted’ advertising, and help technology players not associated with ‘invasive’ ads, but who are still connected to the advertising industry, we are talking here about CPA networks and tracking scripts.
“Admitad is working tirelessly to solve this issue. We are working to improve tracking in order to capture the most target actions brought in by affiliate channels. We feel this improvement is important, as it would give our publishers a way to concentrate on traffic monetization and a way to forget about the struggle against ad blockers.
“We also recommend our colleagues join us in working on this problem as well. Ad blockers are our partners in the struggle against unwanted, invasive and inappropriate ads. They are best viewed as a positive participant in the advertising market, where we all work together.”