How to deal with ad blockers on your WordPress website

Ad blockers, their effects and alternatives to uphold revenue

Saving Money
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Generating an online revenue source from placing advertisements on your WordPress website can be challenging enough. This task is increasingly made more difficult due to the rapid increase in popularity of Ad Blockers. Ad blockers have been single-handedly changing how the landscape of the internet looks. This is set to continue despite the best efforts of a variety of global online industries to bring its dominance to an end. Let’s have a closer look at what ad blockers are and their effects.

What are ad blockers?

Ad blockers are a type of software designed to specifically remove or alter a variety of digital advertisement elements from websites, removing them from the view of users. They are typically installed as an extension of the chosen browser. In general, all modern popular browsers offer multiple variations of such ad blocker extensions to choose from.

Stop Ad Blockers
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Over the last couple of years, ad blockers have become increasingly comprehensive as well as sophisticated. They allow to manipulate most if not all forms of advertisements which may in the end lead to serious financial implications for a wide-range of WordPress sites or websites in general.

Effects of ad blockers

Ad blockers have had a serious negative impact. Not just for the small, humble websites, but also for large media outlets and corporations who are being forced to invest in counteractive measures to claw back the lost revenue these ad blockers are causing. Websites, regardless of their size, rely to some extent on the revenue stream from advertisement placements. With most low-key offerings actually requiring advertising income in order to cover the continuously rising running costs.

Crisis
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The loss of revenue these ad blockers are causing is about $22 billion worldwide according to a 2015 survey done by PageFair. This is forcing webmasters to seek alternative measures they can take in order to counteract advertisement blocking software, which is ultimately costing the end-user.

Rage against the ad blockers

As advertisement blocking grew in popularity, online revenues continued to steadily decrease. That way many websites failed to adapt to the changing landscape around them resulting in financial hardship, or even collapse. Law suits against the world’s ad blockers failed with a worrying consistency level as German courts upheld a continuous stream of claims from a variety of global media agencies and publishers like Springer.

Closed Store
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For ad blockers some small legal successes have been achieved that has only partially changed the capabilities and policies of ad blockers. However they’re still continually growing at alarming rates as more people become wise to the attractive growing trend of completely eliminating all online advertisements. The cases against the use of ad blocking software continue to this day.

The case for ad blockers

Some would argue that the widespread use of ad blocking software is driving down the costs of advertising in the first place, eliminating the long-term losses incurred by ad blockers. Many people feel that some advertisements had become increasingly frustrating to endure and blocking them dramatically increased their online experience. Intrusive advertisements were very commonplace and difficult to eliminate if your experience became infected by these pesky marketing methods.

Possible steps you could take

Idea
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Ad blockers look set to be around for a long time to come, and if your website is being affected by the use of ad blocking software you simply must adapt in order to continue surviving. There are some methods you can deploy in order to help alleviate the losses of advertising revenue ad blockers may be causing you and your business.

  1. Charge for previously free content
  2. Restrict access to ad blocker users
  3. Asking for donations isn’t begging
  4. Offering sponsored posts or other paid content
  5. Install anti-adblock plugins to regain ad revenue

1 – Charge for previously free content

Websites that were previously offering products or services free of charge, funded by advertisement revenue, are now charging for their content. Membership sites and e-commerce stores have quickly become huge industries in their own right. That applies in particular for WordPress users due to its low setup costs and overall simplicity of getting setup and selling. For example by using membership plugins for WordPress websites: Membership plugins to offer paid content on WordPress websites.

Membership Websites
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Another common trend is to giveaway free and lite versions of your content or product in order to self-promote a premium variation that offers an extended feature list or access to more content.

2 – Restrict access to ad blocker users

There are methods in use that can help webmasters detect when an advertisement is being blocked by software in order to display a message to the user. The message could be a request to be added to the users Whitelist so advertisements are served when the user visits your websites. This enables them to offer their support by allowing advertisements to be served. Using jQuery, you can add a function that will detect when an image is being tampered with by CSS, like so (source: Hongkiat):

$(document).ready(function() { 
    function appendMessage(argument) { 
        var div = $('<div>').attr('id', 'message').text('Ad block is installed and active. Please support us by disabling it.'); 
        var add = $('body').append(div); 
    } 
    setTimeout(function(){ 
        if($("img").css('display') == "none") { 
            appendMessage(); 
        } 
    }, 500); 
});
Ad Blocker Notice
Image Source: Screenshot – Hongkiat.org

The above script will display a text message if it detects that display: none; is being applied to an image. However sincere your polite request may be, actually getting users to have a change of heart in order to support your cause isn’t likely to be enough to offset the loss of advertising revenue.

3 – Asking for donations isn’t begging

Donation requests can also be added within your polite message. Perhaps with a direct link to your preferred donation service, making it easier for people to still support your website without having to endure any crude or intrusive advertisements. Perhaps some additional information informing the user of the implications caused by using an ad blocker can have on your WordPress website (and its future well-being), politely pointing out some facts he or she may not be aware of.

Sponsored Posts
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Another way of dealing with ad blockers is by simply not displaying regular advertisements (e.g. banner ads), but instead monetize your website through paid content. Many companies out there are looking for high-quality websites to spread their message or to promote their products. This is especially interesting if your website covers an interesting niche or topics with a commercial background (e.g. fashion, gadgets or else). If you’re interested in offering sponsored posts on your website, please see: How to monetize your WordPress website with sponsored posts.

5 – Install anti-adblock plugins to regain ad revenue

Adback
Image Source: Screenshot – Adback.co

Another approach in order to deal with ad blockers on your WordPress website is to install anti-adblock plugins. This anti-adblock strategy is similar to restricting access for ad blocker users as discussed above, but instead of completely blocking visitors with ad blockers, you could rather try to convert them into paying customers / users. You can achieve this either by convincing your audience to disable their ad blockers or by offering your visitors additional value as paid upgrade.

An example for such an anti-adblock strategy is the AdBack plugin which you can use to analyze your traffic for ad blocker usage. This can be extremely helpful in order to determine if many of your visitors are using ad blockers or not. If your site is highly affected by ad blocker usage, you can then try to convince your audience to turn off their ad blockers by displaying customized messages.

Conclusion: Dealing with ad blockers

Ad blockers seem set to stay, if not indefinitely then for a long time to come until the courtrooms of Germany and the European Union become more willing to listen to the pleas of the worlds content publishers. Adapting to the change of scenery the internet is creating these days seems to be the only real solution that webmasters must embrace in order to continue surviving.

Creating digital advertisements that are engaging, interactive, or just plain interesting could help remove the need for the user to be interested in blocking your advertisements in the first place. What’s your opinion on ad blockers and how would you go about replacing or compensating possible revenue decrease on your WordPress website? Feel free to leave your comment below.

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