How we monetized 1.4 billion adblock pageviews for Freestar

In an ever-changing industry full of buzzwords, Arizona-based Freestar was founded to simplify the challenges of monetizing websites. By leveraging the ideal mix of header bidding, private marketplace deals, and a unified analytics platform, Freestar’s team of monetization experts help publishers, e-commerce sites, and apps unleash their true revenue potential.

Meet the fastest-growing US company

Founded in 2015, Freestar has already become one of the largest publisher monetization platforms in the world. Its publishing partners receive over 100 million unique visitors in the US alone, or in other words—more than 50% of all US internet users—each month. As a result, Freestar holds the 21st position on the US Comscore Top-50 Multi-Platform Property rankings.

In 2019, with a 3-year revenue growth of 36,680%, Freestar secured the top spot on Inc. 5000, a list which recognizes the fastest-growing private US companies every year. Then in 2020, the company ranked number 31 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list. Freestar is also a Google Certified Publishing Partner (GCPP), a Prebid partner, and a member of the IAB Tech Lab.

Part of the reason for Freestar’s astounding growth is its focus on using the latest technology to deliver revenue lift for publishing partners. Since all the revenue Freestar generates comes from advertising, the ability to monetize adblock users is an easy way to add incremental revenue. It was also crucial for Freestar to find a technology partner that could activate adblock revenue recovery rapidly and at a scale that matches its own business growth.

In 2018, Freestar approached Blockthrough to solve the adblocking problem. “We heard about Blockthrough through industry referrals and feedback from publishers that we work with,” says Shaina Lam, Senior Manager of Revenue Operations at Freestar. “From the beginning, we were confident in Blockthrough’s ability to be our primary adblock recovery solution.”

Keeping up with Freestar’s hypergrowth

Blockthrough’s solution works by recovering ads from the publisher’s own demand stack that adhere to the Acceptable Ads standard, which defines a lighter ad experience that excludes heavy, intrusive, and interruptive formats.

“Freestar is thrilled with the results we have achieved through our partnership with Blockthrough.”

The challenge in implementation was doing this efficiently for the hundreds of publishers that trust Freestar to manage their ad operations. To deliver for this scale, Blockthrough used a combination of specific engineering and process-based optimizations to accommodate Freestar’s needs.

To simplify onboarding for Freestar, Blockthrough supplied a custom integration code, which Freestar includes in their loading script as a default asset. This way, every new Freestar publisher is ready to activate adblock revenue recovery out of the box. This is followed by a one-time configuration of GAM key-values by Freestar and site integration by the Blockthrough solutions engineering team, before the site(s) are pushed live. Every Monday, Freestar sends Blockthrough a list of new publishers, which Blockthrough launches by the end of week. 

“Blockthrough has been supportive of the rate at which we onboard new sites and has allocated additional resources on their team to better support our needs,” Shaina adds. ”The onboarding process is streamlined and speedy, which helps our publishers maximize revenue from the start of their partnership with Freestar.”

For monitoring performance, Freestar has access to site-level adblock analytics and revenue reports using Blockthrough’s reporting dashboard. Blockthrough also shares quarterly performance reports to provide a holistic picture of growth over time. This report includes monthly and quarterly revenue growth, number of sites onboarded, top sites by revenue, breakdown of revenue by demand source, and key strategic objectives for the next quarter.

1.4 billion adblock PVs monetized in 2020

By using the default code integration and a streamlined onboarding process, Blockthrough was able to significantly ramp up the count of Freestar publishers who are able to recover their adblocked revenue. The number of Freestar publishers using Blockthrough’s ad recovery technology increased from 34 at the beginning of Q2 to 280 by the end of 2020.

Average Freestar publisher sites live by month on Blockthrough (2020)

Blockthrough helped Freestar successfully monetize a total of 1.4 billion adblock pageviews in 2020, while delivering a 1483% lift in adblock revenue and a 40% lift in adblock Page RPM during the same period. As a result, Blockthrough helped Freestar achieve seven-figure revenue recovery in 2020, demonstrating the scalability of Blockthrough’s solution.

“Freestar is thrilled with the results we have achieved through our partnership with Blockthrough,” says Matt Burgess, VP of Revenue Operations at Freestar. “The implementation is ultra turnkey, light on the page, and allows us to recover significant levels of ad blocked revenue.”

Despite the custom optimizations, Blockthrough’s solution stays true to its core tenet of only serving ads to users who have consented to receive them. This allows Freestar to monetize adblocked inventory at scale and pass on the additional revenue to its publishing partners, without making any major changes to the respective sites or compromising the user experience.

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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.

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