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What not to do when you encounter AdBlock Plus

As the usage of AdBlock Plus grows more and more attention is being shined upon its use. In general, consumers like Ad-blocking technologies. The web pages load faster, have less cruft on them and are more pleasant to use. On the other hand content owners don’t really like it at all, depriving them of much-needed revenue. Individual companies handle this differently, from kindly asking users to turn ad-blocking off to stopping users from viewing content. I believe that the ad-block rift between users and content producers will continue to grow in the coming years.

adblock plus Firefox install

Some media companies in Germany have decided to take their ad-blocking response to the next level by suing the company that provides the ad-blocking software itself. This action is interesting because instead of going after the users of the technology, they have decided to go after the people who created it. Because of the way this technology works, it is highly unlikely for these media companies to succeed.

AdBlock Plus works as a browser plug-in (similar to how Adobe Flash does). Users find the plugin and add them to their browser. Be default, AdBlock Plus doesn’t do anything until block lists are downloaded and imported into the program. These blocking lists are maintained by independent third parties (usually individuals who donate their time) and are basically a big list of URLs that someone has decide is an “Ad.” Adblock Plus monitors outgoing browser connections for these items and blocks the ones that match.

Suing the creators of AdBlock Plus seems a bit heavy handed. If you are an online content producer (and rely on ad revenue) that is concerned about ad-blocking type technologies, I recommend a metered approach.

  1. Understand the problem. What % of your users are actually using Ad-Blocking technologies on your site? (sometimes this can be hard to understand, Taveo can help ).
  2. Consider offering a small monthly fee to “remove ads” across your platform. iOS and Android application owners do this regularly, with mixed results.
  3. Add a “Please Turn Off Adblock” banner to the top of all pages (careful here, make it tasteful and appeal to the humanity of you users)
  4. Offer users relevant,contextual ads. Text based ads can actually perform better than flashy images. Ads that interrupt a users view or flow are going to annoy them.
  5. Realize this is a problem that every content owner is having. Explain to advertisers what you are doing to combat it and they may work with you on more favorable terms.

Ad-blocking is not going away. Users are increasingly installing and using these technologies. Website owners need to start acting today in order to understand how this effects them and take appropriate steps.

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