I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.
Ad blockers are a symptom of poor advertising practices.
It’s not that your ad-blocking users want everything for free and it’s not that they don’t want your site to be able to sustain itself off of ad revenue. It’s that the practice of display advertising has, by and large, proven itself to be,
- terribly low quality, and/or
- irrelevant (to our interests or to the content of the site on which it appears).
More often than not, it’s some combination of the three.
Side note: Of course, there are reasons that people use ad blockers simply beyond not wanting to see ads.
Can there ever be “good” display advertising?
Absolutely. Any web marketing practice like this continues because it works (whether it’s this or those cringe-worthy drip email campaigns we all get into). I’ll admit that I’ve seen great display ads and I’ve made purchases that I might not otherwise have made because I ended up on a remarketing list.
It’s just that ideas in web marketing spread like wildfire and folks will try to replicate the results the read about, just with the least investment (of time, mental bandwidth, and resources) possible. I’d argue that “good” display advertising has been the historical exception rather than the rule.
Maybe folks are getting better at it? It’s hard to say because I, too, use an Ad Blocker. This has put me at odds with a lot of websites I used to read regularly. I don’t want to be at odds with those sites; the move was made without my input. Folks who use ad blockers, whether out of malice for publishers or in defense of their own web-browsing sanity, aren’t welcome on many sites these. I don’t want to name names…FORBES.
How to get users to turn whitelist your domain in their ad blocker
(without being a condescending jerk about it)
I didn’t intend for this post to be a ranting diatribe about why I use an ad blocker; my intent was to share an example of a site’s ad unblocking strategy that was so effective and well-designed that I found myself helpless to its power.
I encountered this example on OregonLive a few days ago and, at the time, I was blown away. I’ll admit that’s faded a bit in the time since then (I was really excited about it), but I still think it’s great.
Here’s why I think this is perfect:
- The whole thing begins by stating the benefit to the reader, “There’s no paywall here.”
- At the same time, it builds rapport with me instantly. “Hey, these people don’t like paywalls? Awesome, I don’t like them either. It’s like we’re the same person!”
- It doesn’t start the conversation by complaining about how hard it is for them to make money and directly, or through implication, blaming me for it.
- It reminds of how this site is able to remain free. It’s so logical that you can’t argue with it. Seeing some ads seems like a reasonable price to pay for content I want to read.
- It doesn’t vaguely tell you to “Turn off your ad blocker or else”. It asks you to do something very specific (ie, whitelist the domain) and, after you click the call to action, IT PROVIDES A TUTORIAL TO SHOW YOU HOW TO DO IT!
I don’t know what your reaction to this polite pop-up would be, but for me, it was immediate whitelisting.
If you run or work on an ad-supported site and you need to employ a strategy to get visitors to turn off their ad blockers, take a queue from the Oregonian and do it with logic, empathy, and class.