How 9GAG revived ad revenue with Blockthrough

Founded in 2008, 9GAG is a popular social media platform based in Hong Kong that brings its global user base together to easily share content from across the internet. Known for its humorous and entertaining material, 9GAG has witnessed substantial growth over the years. 

However, with 80% of its revenue heavily reliant on display advertising, the rise of ad blocking posed a significant challenge. 9GAG needed to find an innovative solution to recover lost ad revenue without compromising the user experience.

The problem

Ad-blocking technology has had a sizable impact on websites like 9GAG, where the desktop user base significantly contributes to its viewership. With a considerable portion of its audience using ad blockers, 9GAG faced a drastic reduction in its revenue from display ads. Considering the high dependency on advertising dollars for its operations and growth, something had to change. 

9GAG assessed a multitude of solutions, one of them being ad circumvention. Also called “ad re-insertion,” this tactic is to re-insert ads even though a user has an ad blocker installed. This is one of the earlier methods developed to recoup advertising revenue dollars, but it compromises the user experience as it does not respect users and ignores their preferences.   

Discovering a balanced solution

Determined to find a more effective and user-friendly solution, 9GAG heavily researched ad-block recovery solutions. They sought an approach that would not only recover lost revenue but also preserve the integrity of the user experience.

This exploration led them to Blockthrough and its award-winning programmatic technology. 

Blockthrough’s solution is grounded in the principle of Acceptable Ads, which allows nonintrusive ads to be displayed to users who have an ad blocker installed. This technology works by identifying ad-blocking users who allow a light ad experience and then serving them with ads that meet the Acceptable Ads criteria, ensuring that the advertising is not overly disruptive and maintains a balance between user experience and revenue generation.

With just one line of Javascript code and little to no upkeep, publishers can easily implement Blockthrough’s programmatic technology and start seeing immediate incremental revenue gains. 

Swift implementation and results

9GAG’s integration with Blockthrough was swift and seamless.

“All support and technical investigation was done top tier.”

Due to their initial satisfaction with the technology, 9GAG wanted to go live on all their traffic as soon as possible. That was accomplished in just a couple of days, and within three months, they were fully optimized with Blockthrough’s suite of products—including Blockthrough Exchange as well as Blockthrough Refresh, an Acceptable Ads compliant implementation of ad refresh.  

The impact was significant and immediate:

  • Since October 2022, 9GAG has monetized over 450M Acceptable Ads pageviews with Blockthrough, leading to incremental revenue of over $550k.
  • 9GAG witnessed a notable increase in average CPM and RPM, more than doubling their revenue per thousand impressions.
  • With a higher-than-average ad block rate of 33%, 9GAG has been able to monetize a third of its audience with Blockthrough’s programmatic solution.1 
Stacked area chart showing 9GAG's monthly and cumulative revenue generated from Blockthrough
(Monthly and cumulative revenue generated for 9GAG from Q4 2022 to Q4 2023)

Andrew Wu, Senior Programmatic Manager at 9GAG, adds, “So far the revenue recovered through Blockthrough accounts for over 10% of total desktop revenue.” 

However, 9GAG’s satisfaction with Blockthrough extended beyond revenue performance. They appreciated the continuous support and technical expertise provided by Blockthrough, especially considering the time zone difference. 

“All support and technical investigation was done top tier. The team is aware that I am based in Hong Kong and the Blockthrough team in the US. We try to make communication as efficient as possible to reduce the amount of email turnaround time and focus on actual work,” explains Wu.

Encouraged by the positive results, 9GAG remains committed to exploring further optimization strategies for ad block recovery. The team is keen on testing new products and is always inquisitive about Blockthrough’s development roadmap.

  1. 1 For more information about average ad block rates by country and device, see the 2023 eyeo Ad-Filtering Report. ↩︎

While you're here...

Did you know that the average publisher loses 10-40% of their revenue to ad blocking? What you may not know is that ad blocking has largely shifted to ad-filtering, with over 350M users allowing a safer, less interruptive ad experience to be served to them—in turn supporting their favorite sites and creators.

Blockthrough's award-winning technology plugs into publishers' header bidding wrapper and ad server to scan ad creatives for compliance with the Acceptable Ads Standard to activate this "hidden" audience and generate incremental revenue, while respecting the choice and experience of ad-filtering users.

Want to learn more?