- Publishers are using "anti-ad blockers" — software which detects and can call out or stop users of ad-blocking technology — on their sites 52x more often than previous research indicated, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Riverside, whose findings were reported by MediaPost.
- The "Measuring and Disrupting Anti-Adblockers Using Differential Execution Analysis" study found anti-ad-blocker technology existed on 30% of the top 10,000 websites, and on 38% of the top 1,000 websites. The researchers ran multiple experiments to detect and analyze anti-ad blockers, and visited the same sites without ad blockers to measure the differences in experiences.
The adoption of ad-blocking software has been steadily on the rise, with around 26% of U.S. consumers using the technology as of October 2017, according to a report from OnAudience.com. That figure translated to about $15.8 billion in lost revenue for publishers last year, but many are evidently taking matters into their own hands to ensure ads are delivered to audiences and that users of ad blockers are stonewalled from their sites.
The new findings from University of California, Riverside highlight the security risks associated with this approach, however, and also how, for every potential solution put into place for ad blockers, it's likely that a countermeasure will quickly arrive in what Qian described as a "rapidly escalating technological arms race." Instead of developing technology to bypass ad blockers, publishers and marketers might be better served by improving the overall online user experience and creating ad platforms that are less disruptive, as consumers often attribute their adoption of ad blockers to annoyance with digital ads — pop-ups and autoplay video are commonly-cited offenders — or security concerns.
Introducing anti-ad blockers might also be an uphill battle as more of the major web browsers attempt to clean up their user experiences as well. Google plans to launch a native ad blocker for its popular Chrome browser next week, on Feb. 15, and has also introduced features that mute reminder ads and sites that display auto-play videos. Apple's Safari browser last year also started removing some first-party cookies without user choice or control, earning the ire of ad trade groups.