Your Site On Drugs: The Hidden Cost Of Ad Blockers


Bkw_small_headshot by Brian K. Walker

Ad blockers
have grown in use over the last few years as a plug-in for Web browsers. This
is particularly easy for Firefox
users who can easily add in the Mozilla recommended Adblock
Plus
add-on when downloading Firefox.

Usage stats
are hard to come by. Unfortunately, Forrester has not been polling consumers
with our own Consumer Technographics®
product, which is otherwise very comprehensive. (I will work to change this.)

When I ask
advertisers and retailers about this I often get a response along the lines of
“Huh?”

So what is
the big deal? A few ads get blocked, so what?

Well,
based on a few informed conversations of late I think we are approaching the
5-8% range for consumers using ad-blockers. This starts to really count at that
level.


There
are three key reasons why this is important:

  1. Missing impressions — the way
    the ad blocker works is that is does not render the ad in the browser. However, the ad was served by the ad server, content management system (CMS)
    or image directory. If you are selling or buying impressions this means
    you are either cheating or getting cheated. At 5% I think this starts to matter to the advertising buyer.
  2. Many eCommerce sites use the same directories, or servers serving the ads, to serve merchandizing (or worse) instructional and service content. Often this is done to leverage
         targeting capabilities available in the ad server, not available on the  legacy commerce platform.** This means sites are just plain broken on ad-blockers  — either the design looks terrible, or content the customer needs is just plain missing.
  3. Many eCommerce sites are
    looking to monetize their traffic in other ways besides conversions. This  is especially true for high-traffic sites. This is bound to increase, and
    sites will be more and more impacted by a problematic ad-serving approach.*

Here is
an example of Wal-Mart’s home page just
by way of example:

Adblocker_example_walmart_2


So, what
can you do about it?

  1. Look at your site on ad blockers.How bad is it? Note what works and does not work, and programmatically address it with your team. ***
  2. Short-term, change the
    directory path of served content that are not ads (and change the path of
         ads at your own risk).
  3. Longer-term, invest in stronger
    CMS and segregate ad serving from content serving and targeting. We have
    analysts who can help with this.

Let us know
how we can help, and please comment on the blog with your thoughts on the
issue.

Thanks,
Brian

* For a good example of a site-design and execution which
work well wither way, check the NYT site
with and without an ad-blocker.

** Note that many of today’s leading eCommerce platforms
support this capability. See our upcoming eCommerce B2C Wave report for more
details.

*** While you are doing this also look at your site in
multiple browsers (Recommended: IE 6, IE 7, Firefox, Safari, and iPhone-Safari)
– oh, and order some things from your own site while you are at it.

If you are
on Twitter, follow me at:
http://twitter.com/bkwalker