By Zach Brundage

One topic plaguing digital publishers is the use of ad blocking software preventing that publisher’s revenue stream from being realized. Per eMarketer, just over 1 in 4 internet users implement some form of ad blocking when browsing the web, meaning publishers are potentially unable to monetize ad space for over 25% of all inbound online users. Many publishers are fighting against the ad blockers directly, but these tactics fail to address the root of the problem, and only further the back and forth with users.

It’s important to first understand the reasons that consumers opt to block ads. They aren’t blocking ads out of malicious intent, after all. The weight that ads carry in terms of data slows down webpage loading and animating an ad takes up device resources. This is even more impactful for users on mobile devices with slow Wi-Fi, or those that are hyper aware of their monthly data usage.

Even with a fast device and unlimited data, users can be turned off by an app or website that is crowded with large or distracting ads. As marketers we don’t like to admit it, but most people aren’t going online to look at ads. While some users put up with a poor experience, others will avoid that website or app in the future, and others still will choose to implement ad blockers, often impacting other publishers that use ads in a responsible manner.

Lastly, stories of data breaches and regulations in the news have also contributed to users’ concerns regarding their data being stolen or inappropriately used. It’s no secret that viruses and other malicious software are often propagated via website ads. These kinds of incidents are enough to drive many to implement ad blocking as a means of protecting their privacy.

So, what can be done about the people that are browsing publisher content while blocking ads? Some publishers are giving up on ads and shifting their business model to subscriptions. Others are tackling ad blocking head-on, implementing anti-ad blocking solutions that restrict the user’s ability to view content until they turn off ad blocking. As a result, anti-anti-ad blocking software has been developed. What a mess! The arms race between publishers and users has no end in sight, and smart publishers are taking another approach to this issue.

By improving the quality, placement and frequency capping of ads, publishers and advertisers are removing user incentive to implement ad blocking software. Several meaningful changes have already been implemented by browsers and publishers, including in-browser pop-up blocking, and restrictions on video auto-play with sound.

Accurate behavior targeting helps put relevant ads in front of users, but there is a balance to be struck. Targeting should be focused enough that ad dollars are not wasted on an individual that is not in consideration, while avoiding the “creepiness” factor of targeting someone on too personal of a level.

On the data privacy front, legislation like the GDPR and CCPA may improve user trust and lower rates of ad blocking down the line. On the other side of the coin, growing data restrictions may impact advertiser’s control over frequency, and the potential frequency spike may disrupt user experience. We are currently seeing this presents challenges with omni-channel cross-device tracking. Different identifiers across various devices limits effective frequency capping, resulting in some being inundated with repetitive ads between their phone, computer and smart tv, despite advertiser’s best efforts.

Adaptation of ad blocking software has declined in recent years, but it is not going away any time soon. Publishers ahead of the curve recognize that fighting ad blockers directly is only a band-aid, and that improving the user experience will do more to solve the issue in the long run. It goes without saying that if a brand’s digital ads are driving people to implement ad blocking, they’re missing the mark at best, and at worst are actively damaging their brand. It’s all about targeting the right audience with the right message! NSA can help you effectively target your desired audience at the optimal frequency and drive long term ROI. For more insight, reach out to