Only 3% of top publishers directly addressing ad blockers: Study

Dive Brief:

  • Only eight (or 3.2%) of the 250 top North American publishers are addressing ad block usage from website visitors by blocking access of asking visitors to turn off ad blocking software, according to research from Pressboard.
  • Three publishers – Wired, Forbes and GQ – block their content from website visitors using ad blocking technology until they turn off the software or pay for an ad-free subscription.
  • One Canadian publisher, Narcity, has taken a middle ground approach by allowing visitors with ad blocking software to access content by signing in via Facebook. This way, the publisher gains some benefit from the increased data known about that visitor.

Dive Insight:

The fact that most major publishers aren't directly addressing ad blocking comes as a bit of a surprise, with the debate around the technology and its impact on advertisers and publishers alike growing heated in recent months

“Ad blocking is a growing concern, a major topic of discussion and a financial headache for publishers,” Jerrid Grimm, co-founder at Pressboard, told Marketing Dive about the findings. “Yet surprisingly, only a tiny minority (3.2%) of the top 250 North American publishers are taking any action to stop their ad block-using visitors. Is this just the beginning, will we see an increasing number of publishers limit access to their content, or will the few publishers that are blocking the ad blockers now give up the fight?”

The study was conducted by Grimm's team installing AdBlockPlus and visiting all 250 of the top publishers' websites to see how they address ad blockers. According to Grimm, Pressboard intends to update the list each quarter.

One data point that jumped out of the research was the high number of elements blocked on publishers websites. The average number of homepage elements blocked was 10, while article pages had an average of 11 elements blocked. Grimm said the elements include display ad units, recommendation widgets, native ad units, and tracking scripts.

What this research should tell marketers is that publishers for the most part are not stopping the use of ad blocking technology. That means marketers are missing out on a growing portion of a traditional online advertising audience on sites where ad blockers are not addressed.

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