Ad blockers: are they costing you money?

How much of a problem are “ad blockers” to your advertising? Ad blocking software either prevents ads from being served in the first place, or hides them. Their use is on the rise, and it’s probably down to the increasingly intrusive nature of video advertising; there would have been little interest in them if Google’s restrained text ads were all that the web had to offer. Only a minority of people have them at the moment, but that could change.

Even if they did become the norm, they’re not costing you money if you’re using pay-per-click advertising, like Google AdWords, as the charge is just when people click on the ad. If it’s not seen, you can’t be clicked, and the existence of ad blockers is more of an irritation than a problem.

Ad blockers might be costing you money if you’re using pay-per-view or “CPM” advertising (although few people in our sectors do). That’s because some ad blockers download the ads but don’t show them, so they’d still probably be counted as viewed. They’re certainly costing you money if you’re paying a fixed monthly rate for your ad to appear on a site, because your ad will not be getting seen as much as the publisher claims. However, I’d have hoped that most advertisers were sophisticated enough by now to be assessing their return on investment from visitors received, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Another aspect to consider is the possibility that elements of your own site might be blocked. One reader here recently emailed to say: “We have a free calculator app that we promote on a few pages of our site with an image. To place the ad on the page, our page code included a seemingly innocuous snippet which mentioned ‘calculator ad’. The unintended consequence was that visitors running an ad-blocker in their browser couldn’t see that element of the page”. Downloading an ad-blocker and testing the results on your own site might be a worthwhile exercise.

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