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What is the Function of Ad Blockers and How Do They Influence Your Marketing Approach?

Ad blocking applications prevent advertisements from displaying in a web browser. These tools are a boon for users who find ads intrusive and bothersome. However, for marketers, there is concern that it might disrupt their advertising campaigns and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing efforts.

Apart from marketers, companies that rely on advertising for revenue, such as Google, Bing, and PPC management firms, may also experience a setback. Surprisingly, some studies suggest that increased use of ad blockers could actually be advantageous for marketers.

Before delving into the specifics, publishers and consultants in PPC marketing agencies must understand the functioning of this technology. Only then can they formulate PPC strategies that effectively reach their target audience.

Ad Blocker Usage Statistics

Globally, an estimated 42.7% of internet users employ an ad blocker.

Table 1. Estimated Ad Blocker Usage in the US According to eMarketer

YearAd Blocker Usage Rate
202127.0%
202026.4%
201925.8%
201824.9%
201723.6%
201621.5%
201520.6%
201415.7%

In the U.S., the penetration of ad blocker users has steadily increased year after year. Among the numerous reasons cited, the six most common are:

  • Excessive ads on the internet (22.3%)
  • Too many bothersome or irrelevant ads (22.3%)
  • Intrusive ads (19.9%)
  • Ads occupy too much screen space (16.7%)
  • To enhance page loading speed (16.5%)
  • To expedite page loading (14.6%)

Table 2. Top 10 Most Popular Firefox Desktop Add-Ons for a Week (Oct 17, 2022)

Firefox Add-OnUsage Rate
uBlock Origin4.872%
Video DownloadHelper2.262%
Adblock Plus – free ad blocker1.959%
English (US) Language Pack1.948%
DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials1.605%
Cisco Webex Extension1.602%
Amazon Assistant1.384%
Facebook Container1.243%
English (GB) Language Pack1.194%

As observed, Firefox ad-blocking add-ons are highly popular among its users, with four out of the top 10 being Firefox ad blockers. Specifically, uBlock Origin is favored by a majority of users across various countries, utilizing ad blockers for Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers.

How Ad Blockers Operate for Users

Ad blockers serve as content-filtering tools that modify or eliminate ads. They function by scanning a page during loading for scripts and page elements utilized in displaying ads. They then compare these components against ad-blocking filter lists. If there is a match, the ad blocker prevents them from loading.

Ad blockers are available as browser extensions. For example, a Google Chrome user can install a Chrome ad blocker extension. Meanwhile, Mozilla Firefox users can utilize a Firefox ad-blocking add-on. Typically, these extensions offer greater functionality and features compared to the built-in ad-blocking technology found in most modern browsers.

One drawback of using an ad blocker is that it can slow down page loading speed while scanning page elements and scripts. Ad blockers also contribute to slightly higher memory usage. While this may not be a concern for most casual users, individuals who open numerous browser tabs may experience a noticeable slowdown.

Another raised concern is that ad blockers for Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers may potentially contain malware or adware. However, this is a risk associated with using browser extensions, particularly those from relatively unknown publishers.

Users can mitigate this risk by installing only the most popular and recommended extensions from official web stores. For example, Firefox ad blockers can be found on the Firefox Browser Add-Ons page, and a Chrome ad blocker can be installed from the Chrome Web Store.

How Ad Blockers Impact PPC Management and Advertising Campaigns

The inability to display ads due to ad blockers for Chrome and other browsers has a negative impact on PPC management and online advertising agencies. Research conducted by Ovum, for instance, revealed that marketers and advertisers could face losses of up to $78 billion by 2020.

In the U.S., Statistica reports that the cost of using ad-blocking technology, such as Firefox ad blockers, has risen from $3.89 billion in 2016 to $12.12 billion in 2020.

Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the economic cost of ad-blocking will continue to rise in the coming years. This means that a PPC marketing agency would need to adjust how they manage PPC campaigns and adapt their PPC strategies.

However, a PPC advertising agency cannot tackle this challenge alone. They also require the assistance of search engine optimization (SEO) experts and web design specialists to implement the necessary changes, such as making ads less intrusive.

How Ad Blockers Benefit Digital Marketers and Advertisers

Despite the challenges and financial disadvantages that ad blockers pose to publishers and online advertising agencies, there may be some positive aspects, as indicated by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the City University of Hong Kong.

  • Ad blockers sift out users who do not wish to see ads for various reasons. Consequently, publishers and marketers can fine-tune their advertising and PPC strategies to target more engaged users.
  • Advertisers and ad platforms have the option to pay certain ad block companies to include them on an allowlist. However, these ads must adhere to regulations and standards within the digital advertising industry. In this way, ad blockers contribute to regulating the ad industry.
  • Ad blockers compel publishers and consultants in PPC advertising agencies to create superior ads and prioritize content quality. This, in turn, leads to an enhanced user experience.

Managing PPC Campaigns in the Face of Chrome and Firefox Ad-Blocking

Ad blockers are a permanent presence, and trends indicate increasing usage rates in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the sooner publishers and marketers adapt, the better it will be for their PPC marketing services. Here are some approaches to dealing with ad blockers:

1. Adhere to Ad Industry Regulatory Bodies

Several regulatory bodies and initiatives aim to enhance the digital advertising industry. One notable example is the Coalition for Better Ads Standards (BAS), which includes board members like:

  • American Association of Advertising Agencies (4 A’s)
  • Association of National Advertisers (ANA)
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
  • Microsoft
  • NAVER Corp
  • Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)
  • News Corp
  • Unilever
  • World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)

To underscore the importance of complying with BAS standards, consider the usage rate of Chrome. Globally, it accounts for 63.58 percent of the browser market. In the U.S., it accounts for 46.32 percent. Therefore, publishers that do not adhere to BAS guidelines will not pass through a Chrome ad blocker and will miss out on a substantial user base.

2. Encourage Users to Disable Ad Blocker

One approach to managing PPC campaigns is to request that users allow ads. There are two methods to do this.

  • Allow users to access a certain number of posts, then display a gentle message asking them to disable ad-blocking.
  • Sites with a large following can restrict content. Users can only read articles if they deactivate their ad blocker.

3. Implement a Subscription Model or Paywall

Instead of relying solely on PPC marketing services, companies can establish an additional revenue stream, such as a paywall. This subscription model monetizes restricted content by granting users access after paying a fee.

Since users are paying for access, restricted content must be high-quality and justify the cost. While it is possible to incorporate some ads, they should be kept to a minimum and non-intrusive.

Combining ads with a subscription model is an effective way to offset the negative impact of ad blockers. It is up to the company and its marketers to experiment and determine the optimal mix for the best results.

Adapting to Evolving Digital Marketing Technologies

Digital advertising is an indispensable tool that benefits both businesses and customers. Unfortunately, some publishers and marketers inundate social media and websites with excessive, irrelevant, and intrusive ads. On the other hand, users have the right to privacy, including the ability to disable tracking features used by many platforms for advertising-related purposes and to block ads.

There are, of course, strategies to mitigate or limit the impact of ad blockers on advertising campaigns. These include compliance with industry standards and regulations or asking users to allow ads. Some businesses have also turned to a subscription model to generate revenue.

For those interested in learning how to create new opportunities in the face of ad blocking, feel free to reach out to us. Our consultants can explain how we can tailor PPC marketing services to minimize disruption and ensure the generation of qualified leads.

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