How do I monetize adblock traffic with Blockthrough?

At Blockthrough, we help some of the world’s largest media brands recover their adblocked revenue—but what does that actually mean?

To understand the problem that adblockers present, let’s take a look at how publishers typically monetize their content in a normal non-adblocked environment.

  1. A new user lands on your website.
  2. The ad auction is initiated.
  3. All the vendors within your existing ad tech stack (demand partners, SSPs, ad exchanges, etc.) are called into play.
  4. The bid with the highest value is selected by the ad server.
  5. The winning ad creative is rendered on the webpage.
  6. The user views the ad (an impression).
  7. This impression generates the ad revenue needed to fund your business operations.

However, what happens if the ad auction never begins? You’re effectively stuck on step 1. If an ad creative is blocked from ever displaying on your website, you will not be able to monetize that site visitor.

In the 2021 PageFair Adblock Report, we revealed that over 800 million devices were blocking most forms of digital advertising across the globe. This is coupled with the fact that most publishers have an adblock rate between 10-40%, which translates to billions of advertising dollars (almost $12B by 2020) being forfeited to adblockers.

This is what we mean when we say “adblocked revenue”.

In order to avoid leaving this revenue on the table, you can use one or more of the few available adblock recovery strategies to monetize adblock users.

What’s the best adblock recovery strategy?

There are 3 types of adblock recovery strategies available to publishers.

  1. Adblock circumvention
  2. Message-based recovery (soft and hard walls)
  3. Acceptable Ads

Adblock circumvention

Adblock circumvention re-injects ads back into the webpage by exploiting technical loopholes in how adblockers detect ad units. However, the last adblock report presented that 81% of surveyed users said that they downloaded an adblocker to avoid interruptive ad experiences.

Re-injecting ads and forcing them upon adblock users blatantly ignores their Web preferences and perpetuates the same bad advertising experiences that they wanted to avoid in the first place. It is also not a sustainable solution and leads to unpredictable results, as vendors need to constantly update the circumvention logic to keep up with the adblockers.

Message-based recovery

Message-based recovery, or pop-ups, are a little easier to spot. If you use an adblocker, you may have seen some of the following pop-up walls.

Pop-ups are also not an ideal revenue recovery method as it manifests as another interruptive, intrusive Web experience that adblock users originally wanted to avoid.

Similar to circumvention, it is also not a sustainable solution. These pop-ups only monetize a small subset (10-20%) of one’s total adblock visitors and have diminishing returns over time.

So what does that leave us with? Enter, Acceptable Ads—a solution that allows publishers to monetize the vast majority of adblock users while respecting their Web experience.

Acceptable Ads

Acceptable Ads is a Standard, governed by an independent, non-profit organization called the Acceptable Ads Committee (“AAC”). The AAC is tasked with defining a set of light, non-intrusive ad formats that can be served to adblock users who opt-in to view such advertising. At the same time, it disallows interruptive formats such as animated ads, auto-playing ads, and interstitials.

The Standard consists of well-researched ad formats that take user experience into account to determine which formats are considered “acceptable.”

For example, in-content ads were recently added to the Standard, as it was supported by an exhaustive user research study. By monetizing with Acceptable Ads, publishers stand to recover revenue lost to adblockers, without making any changes to their site or disrupting their user’s experience.

How do I get started with Acceptable Ads?

In theory, any publisher can join the Acceptable Ads program. However, in practice, it is easier for larger ad tech platforms (like Google or Amazon), as they have full control over their advertising stack and can easily ensure compliance with Acceptable Ads. Publishers who rely on third-party ad tech partners may not have the same resources to filter ads for compliance.

That’s where a dedicated Acceptable Ads provider like Blockthrough comes in.

Our ad filtering technology is built to ensure compliance with Acceptable Ads. In other words, we can recover your adblocked revenue while offering your adblock users a lighter ad experience.

How does Blockthrough accomplish this?

Blockthrough uses a lightweight (<5 KB) detection script that checks the following conditions:

  1. Is an adblocker present? We only monetize adblock users. Non-adblock users are monetized as per your existing ad tech setup and are not affected by Blockthrough.
  2. Has the user opted into Acceptable Ads? Adblockers that participate in Acceptable Ads give users the ability to opt-out. In order to respect a user’s preferences, we only monetize adblock users who are opted into Acceptable Ads.

If either of those conditions are not met, the script shuts off.

Visual depiction of how Blockthrough's detection script is triggered.

Earlier, we described how monetization works in a non-adblocked environment compared to a situation where an adblocker is enabled. We learned that the adblocker stops the ad creative from rendering, which results in the publisher failing to monetize that user.

Now let’s see what happens in an adblocked environment, but with Blockthrough present.

  1. A new (adblock) user lands on a publisher’s website.
  2. The user’s adblocker blocks all ad tech scripts and now the publisher’s inventory cannot be auctioned.
  3. Blockthrough’s detection script is fired.
  4. It first checks if the user is using an Acceptable Ads-supported adblocker and if the user is opted-in to Acceptable Ads.
  5. If both conditions are satisfied, the detection script will then restore the publisher’s existing demand.
  6. The ad auction is now re-initiated and looks to fill the publisher’s inventory.
  7. The publisher’s demand partners respond with numerous bid responses.
  8. Blockthrough adds a unique ID to each response.
  9. After creating a pool of compliant bids, Blockthrough then selects the bid with the highest CPM.
  10. The winning bid is rendered on the page.

In this scenario, you are now able to monetize your adblock user without compromising their experience by showing them Acceptable Ads-compliant creatives.

But how do we find a compliant creative in the first place?

Sourcing a compliant ad creative via ad filtering

As your existing monetization configuration was disabled by the adblocker, we will need to reload your ad tech stack in an Acceptable Ads-compliant environment. This involves scanning all creatives to check for compliance. Here’s what the ad filtering process boils down to.

  1. As mentioned in step 8 above, we add a unique ID to each response (bid creative).
  2. We cross-reference this unique ID against our library of scanned ad creatives.
  3. Then, we check if this is,
    1. a new creative that needs to be scanned or,
    2. a creative that has already been scanned and deemed compliant as per the Standard.
  4. Assuming that it passes all the specifications outlined in the Standard, the creative is then rendered on your website.
Visual depiction of how Blockthrough's ad filtering technology works

Now that we have established that the ad creative is compliant with the Standard, we can serve that ad to adblock visitors on your site.

In summary

There are over 800 million devices across the globe that block ads. The primary motivation behind this is to avoid intrusive, annoying Web experiences. As a result, publishers are losing billions of dollars in ad revenue globally.

In order to stop this revenue leakage, publishers can use Acceptable Ads to recover their adblocked revenue in a respectful, consent-based manner.

Blockthrough helps publishers comply with the Standard and recover advertising revenue using a lightweight script and proprietary ad filtering technology. We offer easy integration, universal header bidding compatibility, and most importantly, sustainable incremental revenue.

Speak to our team to learn more about our recovery solution.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Which ad serving technologies do you support?

We’re wrapper agnostic, this means that we’re compatible with all header bidding wrappers (including Prebid.js) and can integrate with most SSPs and ad servers, including AdX and GAM.

  1. I don’t use Prebid or GAM, what are my options?

No problem! For header bidding, you can use our existing demand relationships to get started. Similarly, you can use Blockthrough’s GAM account for serving ads on adblocked inventory.

  1. Do I need to change my existing setup to use your GAM account?

Using our GAM account does not require you to change your ad serving configuration for your regular traffic. You would simply use our GAM instance for the adblock environment.

  1. Do you use a global blocklist?

We have our own—but we can include individual advertisers that you would like to block.

  1. Can’t I simply create my own adblock recovery solution?

You can, however, building a filtering engine for Acceptable Ads compliance requires a high level of time and cost investment to get right. We suggest reading our NitroPay case study first.

  1. Do you support direct demand?

Yep, we support direct as well.

Ready to get started with Blockthrough? Fill out our form below to speak to someone on our team today.

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 300M 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?