The Mountain News Approach to Ad Blocking

By June 27, 2016Uncategorized


It’s no secret that ad blockers are on the rise. eMarketer estimates the number of users using ad blockers as 38% in 2015 – a 10% increase compared to the year before, indicating the two main reasons include the excess of video ad formats and repetition of the presented ads. Additionally, ad blockers are much more accessible now than in previous years. These trends have forced the advertising industry to adapt.

Consider mega giant GOOGLE: Despite all their diversification, Google is primarily an ad company. According to public year end reports, Google made 90% of their revenue in 2014 from ads. How are they handling this trend? Google is transforming the market to a world where ads are relevant to the user, eliminating the need to install ad blockers because of annoying ads, minimizes the problem of higher load times on mobile devices with their technology of “Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMP).

Publishers all over the world are developing their own ways to deal with this trend. Solutions range from small friendly notifications, asking the users to kindly deactivate the ad blocker, to full-screen pop-ups, effectively creating a wall between the user and the content they are trying to access. The nature of ad blockers makes it difficult for publishers to measure the success of these barriers, as a user with ad blocker is invisible and not personally identifiable. It’s also very difficult to track if a user has an ad blocker installed and consciously decides to deactivate the blocker on certain pages.

How has Mountain News responded? We’ve implemented a mechanism that enables us to track how many users are using an ad blocker on our owned and operated properties. This number ranges from 6% to 13% – both well below the industry trend of 38%. Why is that? eMarketer collects data over all internet users – and while the average internet user is in their 20’s, the average user across Mountain News properties is in their 40’s. Also, at least 50% of consumers are interested in ads that match their personal interests, according to the 2016 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey. Because the Mountain News properties draw a specific group of mountain enthusiasts, our advertisers leverage this to deliver targeted, relevant messages that peaks their interest.

While we keep track on the number of ad blocking users on our pages, we can also monitor the success of other publishers as well as the trends and results in technologies like Google AMP. We will take these findings and best practices into consideration for potential changes moving forward. Locking out users with ad blockers or begging them to deactivate their blockers is not our approach. Instead, we will follow the lead of our clients: Leveraging the 1st-party data we have to reward the user for not using ad blockers: Not only with relevant ads, but also with relevant, interesting information.