We recently interviewed Alexandre Cazaurang, Product Manager at AT Internet about the effects of adblockers and AT Internet’s solution.
Tune into our video to find out more!
What is an ad blocker?
Ad blockers/filters (AKA content blockers) are software plugins or browser extensions that remove or trim any type of content identified as online advertising on a web browser or application. They come in the form of standalone programs or customised services or extensions in a web browser or operating system.
Ad-blocker software targets adverts such as auto-playing videos, banner ads/web banners, billboards, full screen ads, pop-ups, pop-unders and sticky ads. And they’re used by vast numbers of web users. Figures from 2018 show that 12.2 million people used an ad blocker on a monthly basis in the UK, representing 22% of internet users, compared with 28.7% in France, 32% in Germany and 25.2% in the US.
How do ad blockers work?
The software uses filtering rules to block or hide contents on a web page. While a webpage is loading, the ad blocker looks at the site’s scripts and compares them with a list of sites and scripts it was built to block. If it finds any, it blocks them.
Some are capable of differentiating between acceptable and non-acceptable ads, these are then placed on a ‘whitelist’ and shown to ad blocking users who allow Acceptable ads. However, many don’t distinguish between acceptable and annoying/intrusive ads – all adverts get penalised equally. When users decide to block the advertising on the sites they visit, they also prevent all the data being gathered by content providers – ad blockers often have the function of shutting out web analytics .
What is the impact of ad blockers on web analytics?
When ad blockers are installed, between 8% and 25% of traffic data can be lost depending on the web analytics tool used and the type of site being measured. In practical terms, this involves the loss of site visit data and quantitative metrics such as visit duration, pageviews, conversions and bounce rate.
Certain ad blockers actively focus on user privacy and include built-in features to block analytics tools. However, the majority of ad blocking tools don’t block data collection by default and simply have the feature available as an option should the user want to activate it. On the other hand, mobile ad blockers do block web analytics by default. Once installed, the ad blockers on mobile applications will automatically prevent communication with domains they consider to be ad related. Unlike websites, the large majority of mobile ad blockers block web analytics tools by default. Although apps developed natively will not have their measurement tools and ads blocked, most of them will.
Most web browsers include built-in features dedicated to ad blocking and privacy, some with their blocking activated by default. Google Chrome’s ad-blocking features are labelled as a way to shift the control back to publishers and improve user experience (UX). However, many are saying it will “kill off most ad-blocker extensions” and by implication, consolidate the tech giant’s power over the type of ads it chooses to promote.
What are the solutions to ad blockers?
The best way to see if an ad blocker is being used is by setting up AT Internet’s Adblock detector. Exclusively for AT Internet customers, the plugin helps you detect the visits to your website that are using adblockers and that are potentially blocking AT Internet requests – with a basic implementation you can measure the use of adblockers and assess their impact on your data collection.
AT Internet’s Custom Domain Data Collection (CDDC) feature sends data directly via your own domain name (instead of AT Internet’s domain) so that tracking scripts are not disabled, making it possible to retrieve the majority of traffic lost due to ad blocker usage. Some of our customers have considerable results with CDDC, retrieving as much as 20% of their traffic.
AT Internet also has a new partnership with Adback, an analytics and monetisation solution specialising in ad block traffic. AT Connect Adback allows users to recover the blocked audience that Adback has detected, then feed this data into the Analytics Suite 2 interfaces, including the elements impacted by ad blockers.