Are Ad Blockers Killing Small Enterprise?

May 16, 2016 at 7:24 am  •  Posted in Other Geekery by  •  0 Comments

A little bit of background…

My background is in paid search, so I work with companies to promote their services via Google Adwords and Bing but I’m also part of the blogger community, many of whom make money from displaying ads on their websites (so the other side of the coin if you like.)

Crossing over both communities, I’m hearing from both sides about dwindling or harder to make income  from Google (adwords and adsense), so I decided to investigate.

It was here that I came across the meteoric rise in the use of Ad Blockers.

What are Ad Blockers

Ad Blockers are apps that work on desktop, mobile and tablet browsers to block ads from showing while you browse online.  They stop banners from appearing on websites, ads in google search results and shopping comparison ads from appearing in Google.

While in principle it sounds like a great idea from a user perspective, Ad Blocker software does not distinguish between coding for ads and normal website functionality coding which frequently results in websites (without banner advertising) not loading correctly to rendering them completely unusable.

If you’re a savvy shopper, and know your favourite website is going to pop up banners with 20% off if you drop out of the shopping process, ad blockers will stop these ads from appearing too.

The Growth of Ad Blocker Use

Image from report by

Image from report by

When you  consider the demographic of your website’s audience, what percentage of them could be using ad blockers?

The Twist…

The companies that create ad blockers offer white listing to advertisers at a cost (and it’s not cheap). Now, is it me or does this sound like a form of extortion ie. “Pay me money, or I’ll stop people from finding you.”  If you are a large business with deep pockets, it’s not really a problem to pay blackmailers these types of companies.   If you are a small enterprise, whether a sole trader or small business, you probably already have very stretched resources and are working with a tight budget, so paying additional unblocking fees on top of normal Google Adwords fees just isn’t feasible.

I am so concerned about the growth curve in the use of Ad Blockers, I spoke to my contact at Google to find out what Google is doing about it (ultimately, it impacts their revenue too.)  Currently, Google have no official stand on this situation and I was directed to this report by E-Marketer (a pdf download) eMarketer Global Ad Blocker Survey, but it doesn’t actually give a course of action.

What can you do about it?

First of all, you need to question your own use of Ad Blockers – if you do use them, where you aware of the wider implication on small enterprises and bloggers that rely on the revenues to keep going?

Test ad blockers impact on your own website – download an app (they are usually free) on to your phone or tablet and look at your website.

  1. Does it still work, do all the headings, text, images appear as normal? Do all the links and buttons still work?
  2. If you show ads normally, do these still appear?

Unfortunately, until the larger companies decide to take a stand against companies that create ad blocking software or someone comes up with alternative ways of getting around it (native advertising is currently looking like a good option – this is natural looking links within your content rather than obvious banner advertising) the problem is only going to grow.

Let me know what you think – do you have any other ideas on how we can make a stand?

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