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82% of users prefer lighter ad experience: How publishers can recover revenues lost through adblocking

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Adblocking on desktop is on the rise again. It has rebounded close to the earlier, all-time-high 2018 levels, according to the 2022 PageFair Adblock Report from adblock revenue recovery company Blockthrough. 

Desktop adblocking growth slowed in 2016-2018, and then declined over 2018-2020. It started growing again over the last two years reaching 290M active users worldwide in 2021. These are conservative estimates, according to the report, as they do not take into account wide-spectrum content blockers, VPN/DNS-based adblockers, and network-level adblockers.

Desktop adblocking has crept back up to its 2018 high. Since advertising revenue from mobile web is still a relatively poor monetization environment for most publishers, this is a trend reversal publishers should monitor closely. 

Marty Krátký-Katz, Co-founder & CEO, Blockthrough
Source: 2022 PageFair Adblock Report

“Adblock walls perpetuate the very problem that they intend to solve”

At publishers’ end, there has been a rapid decline in the adoption of adblock walls as a standalone strategy. 2021 saw a “seismic shift in the landscape of strategies used by top US publishers to mitigate the revenue impact from adblocking,” adds Krátký-Katz, “as publisher adoption of adblock walls (or “messaging”) as a standalone adblock recovery strategy declined substantially, with only 1 among the top 100 US publishers relying exclusively on it in this year’s analysis.”

This is in line with user preferences, majority of whom (82%) find adblock walls to be an anti-user tactic and, consequently, don’t convert when presented with one. “I get really annoyed when I’m asked to turn off my ad blocker and usually find another site that gives me the same info,” says a user reflecting a common opinion.

The same number of users (82%) say they prefer a lighter ad experience by default. 

Source: 2022 PageFair Adblock Report

“Publishers need to cut through the marketing pitch that adblock wall vendors give them and really listen to what users want,” Krátký-Katz suggests. “Users install adblockers to avoid interruptions—and at the very basic level, the pop-up messages triggered by adblock walls are a disruption in the browsing experience. So, as a solution, adblock walls perpetuate the very problem that they intend to solve.”

Global opt-in rate for Acceptable Ads over 95%

Currently, the preferred solution for adblock revenue recovery is Acceptable Ads. 62 out of the top 100 US publishers use at least one adblock monetization strategy and 60 out of these use Acceptable Ads as they find it to be the “most reliable and sustainable means to monetize their ad-blocking and ad-filtering audience.” 

The report finds Acceptable Ads’ opt-in rates crossing the 95% threshold for the first time, totaling 216M adblock users on browsers and extensions that support it. It’s a 50% growth in userbase from the beginning of 2019. 

Source: 2022 PageFair Adblock Report

“Acceptable Ads define a lighter ad experience that is considered “acceptable” by at least 65% of surveyed adblock users,” according to the report. “The growing opt-in rate of Acceptable Ads highlights its effectiveness as an industry standard for adblock monetization. 

“Acceptable Ads users are the largest cohort of ad-filtering users on the Web — by remaining opted in, they automatically support their favorite publishers financially by allowing a lighter advertising experience.”

Source: 2022 PageFair Adblock Report

Publishers’ openness to evaluating recovery strategies

However, 32% of the publishers surveyed are not doing anything about adblocking, and 94% say they are not able to precisely quantify the revenue loss. Only 29% of the publishers have an adblock recovery strategy in place, according to another survey by Blockthrough. 

“Lack of confident measurement makes it harder to quantify the revenue threat from adblocking,” the report suggests. “It’s difficult for publishers to prioritize the problem until they are aware of its full scale across their sites.” This despite there being multiple solutions for measuring adblock rates and mitigate adblock-related revenue loss. 

“Publishers’ openness to evaluating recovery strategies grows in proportion to their confidence level in adblock rate measurement.”

2022 PageFair Adblock Report

The full report can be downloaded here:
2022 PageFair Adblock Report