Anti Adblock in WordPress – You Probably Need It, Here’s Why

Before we go into the topic of anti adblock in WordPress, here’s a couple of charts that reflect people’s relationship with ads based on their profession:

Anti Adblock in WordPress

So yeah, ads are perhaps not the best thing in the world if you find yourself on the receiving end of them.

That’s probably why adblockers are so popular these days. As indicated by the latest data, for example, between 24% and 27% of internet users block ads. And things are even worse for mobile. One GlobalWebIndex study reports that as much as 70% of people accessing the web via mobile say they’re either blocking ads already or are interested in doing so in the future.

Also, about that mobile thing, as I recall, when Apple finally allowed adblocking apps a while ago, the App Store truly exploded. One adblock app after another got the #1 most popular spot, week after week. There was drama, there was controversy, and it only showed us how passionate people can be about their ads … or lack thereof, actually.

Anyway, so where does the concept of anti adblock come into play here?

We’ll get to that. But first:

Let’s face it, if you’re a website owner, then based on your business model, ads can be a crucial part of your bottom line. And that’s especially likely if you run a news-like website or an online magazine.

For example, it’s no mystery that ad revenue is the main money stream for many of the top, most popular, blogs out there:

BlogEarnings / monthMain income
Techcrunch$800,000Advertising Banners
Mashable$600,000Advertising Banners
Perez Hilton$450,000Advertising Banners
Smashing Magazine$190,000Advertising Banners
Life Hacker$110,000Advertising Banners
Data courtesy of incomediary.com

But perhaps the biggest strength of advertising as we know it on the web right now is that it’s not only something that the biggest players in the game can utilize. These days, anyone can get a piece, even if they launched their site just yesterday.

The barrier to entry is non-existent with things like Google AdSense, which has to be one of the main reasons why new blogs so often turn to the platform when starting their adventure with monetization. Another advantage is that AdSense works in every niche and market. So even if your WordPress blog is about something very obscure, you can still probably get at least some ad revenue.

However, this is where adblocking interferes and effectively prevents you from making as much money as you normally could. And the scale of it all is really significant.

As I mentioned earlier, somewhere between 24% to 27% of ads get blocked, and this somewhat translates to you losing 20%+ of your potential ad revenue. Just in 2015 alone, for example, more than $22 billion in global ad revenues got blocked.

22-billion-blocked

Okay … so not particularly good news if you’re a fresh blogger or website owner who doesn’t have any product to sell yet, and just wants to make some dollar via ads in the meantime.

So what can you do in this current landscape – a landscape that’s becoming more and more unfriendly towards simple web ads? Here’s anti adblock:

What we can do about adblocking – anti adblock 101

Note. Let’s start by saying that there are other possible monetization methods for WordPress websites and blogs, and advertising hasn’t had the best reputation overall. For instance, there’s an interesting post by Sarah Peterson on 13 reasons why ads are a silly monetization strategy over at smartblogger.com. But let’s just skip all that and focus on the situation at hand. If you want to use ads regardless of the shortcomings, what follows is some info on what you can still do to make it work.

First off, let’s talk about how adblockers work, and also how it’s not your job to make their job easier.

Sounds a bit controversial, so let me clarify:

Adblockers are just a piece of third-party software. A piece of software that uses sometimes complex or non-complex algorithms to decide what is and ad, and then erase it from the screen. It’s a third-party’s attempt at making your ads invisible. Basically.

And that’s fine. It’s their goal, and it’s the user’s decision to use those blockers. They have the right to do so.

At the same time, though, you – the site owner – aren’t obliged to comply with any blockers’ algorithms, and it’s entirely up to you how you want to display ads on your site, and what under-the-hood script/code/software you want to use for that. (As long as everything complies with your local laws, of course.)

What all this means is that as a site owner who has decided to use ads as your main monetization method, it’s your responsibility to make sure that those ads get displayed at all times.

How to get your ads displayed – method #1

With the above in mind, the no.1 anti adblock tactic you can employ to get your ads displayed even if an adblocker is enabled on the user’s end is to move the ads from external servers to your own.

Some restrictions:

  • If you’re on AdSense, this anti adblock tactic won’t work.
  • If you’re on any other ad network that’s managed centrally, this won’t work.

The idea is simple in itself. It’s purely about taking the media files of the ads – the actual banners – and uploading them to your WordPress site like any other media file.

On the face of it, they look like any other image file, GIF, or video that you have on the site. In other words, you’re making it harder for an adblocking script to recognize those ads.

This method works great if you have individual agreements with advertisers or sponsors.

The reason why this can’t be done with things like AdSense is because those ads are served through JavaScript embeds from external sources. You can’t just grab those ads and have them included manually.

How to get your ads displayed – method #2

If getting all your ads on your own server isn’t an option, the next best thing is to use an adblock detection plugin for WordPress. Like our own Ad Blocker Notify –  a free plugin. It’s not our original creation, but we decided to acquire it a while ago because we quite like how the plugin solves the adblocking issue, and how well received it’s been by its users.

adblock notify

The features, in a nutshell:

  • It recognizes an adblocker working on the user’s end.
  • It allows you to display a popup message to the visitor.
  • It allows you to redirect that visitor to another URL.
  • It shows you stats on the percentage of visits that use adblockers.

Now, here’s the way we recommend you to use this plugin (note; this is actually why we’ve liked the concept so much right from the beginning):

(1) Check your stats

The thing you should do first is find out if you even need an adblock detection plugin like this. For instance, if your specific audience doesn’t use adblockers at all, or just a small percentage of them does, then having the plugin will be pointless.

So start by letting the plugin run in the background for a week or two (with no popup messages set yet), and then see the stats to find out how much money you’re losing due to adblocking.

For example, here are the numbers for this blog:

adblock notify stats

(2) Enable the popup

If the numbers are high, create a popup message and try to explain to your audience what’s going on, and why you’d really appreciate them whitelisting your domain.

What you write is up to you, and whatever feels comfortable. The plugin simply provides you with the tools to get your message displayed.

The message itself gets shown in a modal window, and can be configured to fit your design (through CSS). Also, it works just as good on both mobile and desktop.
adblock notify responsive

(3) Enable redirection – optional

In an extreme scenario, you can decide to redirect the visitor to a different URL altogether, and prevent them from consuming your content entirely. Your call.

Here’s Forbes using a similar solution; if you go to any article on forbes.com with adblocking on, you’ll see this:

forbes

That message won’t go away until you whitelist their domain. But that’s a rather extreme use.

Important note, Adblock Notify doesn’t get around the adblocking script itself. Ads are still being blocked, but you get the opportunity to explain the situation to your visitors and potentially convince them to whitelist your domain.

So, as you can see in one of the images above, around 28% of our readers use adblockers. What are your numbers? Please feel free to share in the comments. We’re really curious what the standard is in the WordPress space.

Don’t fancy this particular plugin? No hard feelings, it’s all good. We also have another post over at the ThemeIsle blog – a list of some alternative plugin solutions in the realm of anti adblock. Check it out.

Karol K

Creates content, manages CodeinWP's team of writers and makes sure that every piece of content you see on this blog looks great! / Author of "WordPress Complete" / Professional yerba mate drinker / @carlosinho
  • Paolo Božac

    When I see the anti adblock on a site I just leave the site. I will not disable it to see the ads, That’s why I am using the adblock in the first place.

    • Adblock Notify enables site owner to ‘notify’ more than block users, so you might just get a message like : Did you know that you can also pay $x/month and get rid of ads ? .

      I am sure that most of us agree that the anti-adblock things are not a good idea.

    • Karol K.

      You have every right to do so. Just like the site owner has the right to refuse letting anyone see the content if they don’t see the ads as well. 🙂

      • Geoffrey Tuck

        The information is always on another site. Always.

        • Yes the reader is welcome to see it elsewhere. No free lunch on my site!

  • Sallie Goetsch

    I think the assumption that 30% ad-block use equals 30% lost revenue is based on a faulty premise. You’re assuming that those people would click the ads if they saw them. But people who use ad-blockers are not people who click ads. They’re people like Paolo, there, who will stop visiting your site altogether if they are forced to deal with intrusive ads. (Of course, if ads aren’t too intrusive, people might not block them, but they still won’t click them if they have no interest in the product or service being advertised.)

    I’m not sure there’s a way to determine the actual revenue lost, unless you have statistics from before there was anyone using ad-blockers.

    • Really good point @salliegoetsch:disqus . I would be interesting to know how much is actually lost.

      On the other hand banner ads aren’t usually for clicks, big brands use them to send a message, so even if you see the banner, you got the message, and back in your brain it had an influence. So even if is not 30%, it should be pretty close.

      • Karol K.

        I somewhat agree with both of you on this one. On the one hand, not showing ads to a percentage of people doesn’t necessarily translate to the exact percentage of lost revenue. But on the other, if you take the remaining group of people – the ones that don’t block ads – and then not display ads to half of them, then you can reasonably expect to have 50% of your revenue go away.

        I guess in the bigger scheme of things, on a really large data set, the % of ads blocked should indeed equal the % of revenue lost.

    • Not all advertising, especially on the busy sites are click based metrics……if someone is using adblockers it doesn’t count as an impression on the ads, which in turn can decrease the overall value of a sites inventory if a huge percentage of them are blocking ( which they do in various niches ). If impressions is the target and a small percentage of the current blockers click through to the advertiser then it has the desired effect.

      Obviously there is so many revenue models out there but adblocks throw every advertiser and revenue model under the same bus.

      I should note, I’m an advertiser….marketer and also an ad-block user ( Oh the shame ) but this isn’t due to disliking the ads, its due to some sites ads throwing out so much rubbish that the browser is practically unresponsive. There is a fine line between user experience and people disliking ads, throwing up Anti Ad-blockers is only going to do justice if the users experience is relativity unaffected once disabled.

      • Sallie Goetsch

        Ad-blockers wouldn’t have been invented if sites didn’t go so far overboard with the advertising as to make the site unusable. I think most people tolerate a moderate number of ads, especially if the ads aren’t hijacking the browser. Once the ads start to interfere too badly with site usability, people will either use ad-blockers or just not visit the site. I usually come down on the side of just not visiting the site.

    • What about CPM campaigns? Why would any publisher, who is striving to deliver a quality site, want to be okay with someone cheating him?

  • Doc Pixel

    Nice example using Forbes in your article, since this happened shortly after they decided to force white-listing…*Google:

    “How Forbes inadvertently proved the anti-malware value of ad blockers”

    *Not sure your policy on links.

  • Great article Karol. I think that blogger and website owners have to rethink their monetization strategy. According to Smashingmagazine their advertising revenue has dropped 50% compared to the previous year!
    Adblockers will force bloggers to create products, membership sites and other paid products to make sure revenue keeps coming. At the end of this they could even make a lot more money than by selling ads on their blogs 🙂

    • Karol K.

      In my honest opinion, standard display ads are on their way out at this point. As a market, we really do need to find alternative ways of monetizing.

  • Despite getting low cpc and decreased rpm,adblocking is new major issue for many publishers and there should be something done to stop this i.e even though if we use anti adblock,it only just intimate the users to enable but there is no guarantee that ads are shown

  • Hi, can you please show me how i can cantact them or give me skype , because i’m send many message now but i’m not get any answer for now, can you help me please. Thank you.

  • Evan Grantham-Brown

    Have you ever considered asking yourself *why* everyone hates online ads?

    1. They’re intrusive and disruptive, popping in front of the content you’re trying to get to, suddenly blaring music, etc.

    2. They make your load time slow to a crawl, and can even lock up the browser with sloppy Javascript.

    3. They’re often infected with malware. There was a well-known episode last year where Forbes asked a security researcher to turn off his ad blocker; he did and Forbes’s ad network immediately served up malware that tried to infect his computer.

    With these things in mind, #1 is by far the best solution here: Host the ads yourself, as simple image and HTML files. Then you control how intrusive they are, you can decide on the tradeoff between quality and load time, and you won’t have to worry about some scammer sneaking malware onto a big ad network.

    • Sabina Ionescu

      Thanks for stopping by Evan. What blocker are you using?

  • Ivan Manchev

    Coming soon: “Anti Anti Adblock” xD

  • Ivan Manchev

    I myself, as content user, wouldn’t mind so much if the site admin personally added the ad banners, instead to rely on some centralized system. Doing the second, they prove they don’t give a damn about their users safety, as not once my antivirus alerted me for treats coming from site with ad system. When someone complains about it in the forum, he is approached rather aggressively by the mods.