This week — as The New York Times began testing a campaign against adblockers
— the IAB Tech Lab released a “primer describing the tactics available to publishers
in response to adblocking.”
IAB doesn’t venture to make any one specific recommendation, but suggests publishers follow a process it calls DEAL:
Detect ad blocking, in order to initiate the conversation.
Explain the value exchange that advertising enables.
Ask for changed behavior in order to maintain an equitable exchange.
Lift restrictions or Limit access in response to consumer choices
Letting users know that you’ve noticed they’re using an adblocker “has a high potential risk,” IAB says: “Notice alone has been reported to be of very limited value in changing visitor behavior. There are various explanations for this, including the psychological difficulty that anonymous individuals have in taking responsibility for group behavior, and that browser-based ad blocking tools have capacity to block the messaging windows.” However, it calls this an “education and engagement opportunity.”
The next step might be preventing access to those using adblockers, as The New York Times (for some non-subscribers), Wired, Forbes, and other sites are trying. The benefit is that this “immediately and directly degrades the ad block user’s experience” and “reinforces the value exchange.” Of course, the user might just go to another site, and users may not want to share “constrained content.”
The report also looks at a number of solutions beyond simply blocking access:
— A tiered experience “modifies the level of access that a visitor with ad blocking enabled has…This may fall along a spectrum of experiences already established for visitors with paid subscriptions, visitors who have gone through a free registration, and visitors who have done neither.”
— Visitors might be asked to pay for access. One benefit of this is “inertia: The subscription model has shown that subscribers are likely to continue paying unless they become extremely dissatisfied.”
— Ad reinsertion: Use ads that bypass adblockers.
— Payment to adblocker companies: Pay to be whitelisted, though “payment and inclusion into some adblocker whitelists may motivate users to migrate to more stringent adblockers that do not allow any whitelisting, more damaging to the industry overall.”
— Payments to visitors: Reward visitors for time spent with advertising, either by using “non-currency rewards” or by sharing an actual portion of ad revenue.
So which solution will the Times choose? “We plan to test various options if users decline to whitelist the site,” a spokeswoman told Ad Age.
The full report is here.