Denying Website Access to Ad Blocking Visitors

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Controlling Ad Blocker Removal Request FrequencyTracking Response Rate to Ad Blocker Removal Requests

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The previous chapters have outlined ways to encourage visitors to either whitelist your website or temporarily disable their ad blocker while reading your site content. By design, this approach allows the visitor to continue accessing your site even if they decline to disable ad blocking. The objective of this approach is to appeal to the better nature of your visitors in the hope that enough of them will accede to the request without antagonizing loyal (albeit ad blocker wielding) visitors.

This chapter will move on to the more aggressive approach of denying website access to any visitors using ad blocking.




Does this Approach Work?

An interesting survey of ad blocker users in the United Kingdom was performed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK). Of those responding to the survey, 54% said they would disable their ad blocker if doing so was the only way to access the content on a website. This percentage rises to 73% for respondents in the 18 to 24 year old age group.

The same survey also found that 20% of ad blocker users indicated that they no longer used ad blocking after being unable to access desired content. It was also found that 64% of ad blocker users in the survey reporting having received a request to disable ad blocking when visiting a website.

It would seem, therefore, that there is both a precedent and a strong case for denying access to visitors using an ad blocker. While certainly a valid strategy for dealing with ad blocking, it is important to make a fully informed decision after also taking into consideration the potential risks of this approach.

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Use with Caution

Denying access to visitors if they have an active ad blocker is probably the most extreme measure available to website publishers and is not an option that should be adopted without due consideration. It is important to remember that ad blocking is growing in popularity for the simple reason that ad blockers improve the web experience for most users. Denying access to your visitors if they are using an ad blocker is likely to annoy many of those visitors. Encountering a barrier that denies access until the ad blocker is disabled may cause the visitor to abandon your site and seek similar content elsewhere. If your site content is unique, there is also the risk that determined, technologically savvy visitors will seek out ways to circumvent your ad blocker detection code.

It is also important to keep in mind that not all ad blocking takes the form of a browser plugin that is under the control of the person visiting your site. Due to the prevalence of malware in advertising code, many corporate firewalls contain built-in ad blocking technology over which the individual employee has little if any control. If the content on your website is particularly relevant to corporate employees while they are at work, there is the real danger that they will be unable to meet the demand that ad blocking be disabled and will be locked out from your site.

It is far better, therefore, to find other ways to mitigate the loss of advertising revenue than to use what might best be described as the “nuclear option” of denying access. That being said, there are still valid reasons for using this option:

  • The majority of your website revenue is advertising based, and requesting that visitors disable ad blocking has not made a significant difference.
  • All other avenues of generating revenue from your web traffic have failed.
  • Only a small proportion of your web traffic comes from corporate visitors.

If, after considering the risks and benefits, you essentially arrive at the conclusion that you have nothing to lose by adopting this strategy then the steps to do so are straightforward.


Denying Access when Ad Blocking is Enabled

Access denial is best used in conjunction with the dialog request approach outlined in the chapter entitled Displaying Ad Blocker Removal Requests - A Tutorial. Instead of allowing the visitor to dismiss the dialog and continue accessing the site however, the code will be modified to detect whether the ad blocker has been disabled when the dialog is closed. Assuming the continued use of the Bootstrap Modal plugin to present the dialog, the plugin will be configured such that it calls a function when it is about to close. This function will force the web page to reload which, in turn, will cause the ad blocker detection code to be executed once again. If the ad blocker is still enabled, the dialog will appear. If, on the other hand, the user disabled the ad blocker the code to display the dialog will not execute and the visitor will gain unhindered access to the site content. Since the page reloaded after the ad blocker was disabled, all of the previously blocked ads will once again appear.

To add this functionality to the example created in the Asking Visitors to Turn Off Ad Blocking chapter, just two extra lines of code are required:

var detector = function() {
    setTimeout(function() {

        if(!document.getElementsByClassName) return;
        var ads =
                document.getElementsByClassName('banner_ad'),
            ad  = ads[ads.length - 1];

        if(!ad || ad.innerHTML.length == 0
                        || ad.clientHeight === 0) {
                $("#myModal").modal("show");
                $("#myModal").on('hide.bs.modal', function () {
                       window.location.reload();
                });
        }
    }, 2000);
}

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The additional lines of code configure the Modal dialog to execute a window.location.reload() function call when the dialog is about to be hidden (in other words the user has clicked on the close button to dismiss the dialog). When called, window.location.reload() function forces the browser to reload the web page.

While the dialog is displayed, the content of the web page will be visible but will appear with a dark overlay. The user will not, however, be able to scroll the page to view more content than is currently visible. If the dialog does not obscure enough of the content, consider increasing the dialog size by adding more content to the message, perhaps explaining why this action has become necessary. The width of the modal dialog may also be increased using the modal-lg class when declaring the modal element:

<div class="modal fade" id="myModal" role="dialog">
  <div class="modal-dialog modal-lg">

    <!-- Modal content-->
    <div class="modal-content">
      <div class="modal-header">
.
.
.
</div>

Visit the following URL to see this strategy in action:

See it in Action

http://www.techotopia.com/survival/denial.html

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Offer a Less Ad Intensive Experience

As with the ad blocker removal request strategy, consider offering the visitor a browsing experience containing less ads in return for disabling ad blocking while visiting your site. As outlined in the chapter entitled Controlling Ad Blocker Removal Request Frequency, this can be achieved using ad reinsertion (as outlined in Filling Blocked Ads with Ad Reinsertion) combined with a cookie to allow the agreement to be honored when visitors return to the site in the future.

Summary

If insufficient users disable ad blocking when asked to do so, another option is to deny access until the visitor complies. Although a valid approach that is gaining in popularity among web publishers, this strategy is not without some risks including alienating loyal visitors and denying access to corporate employees unable to comply with the request to disable ad blocking. As outlined in the next chapter, the success rate of such an approach can and should be monitored carefully.


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Purchase this Ad Blocking Survival Guide book in eBook ($19.99) or Print ($25.99) format.

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Controlling Ad Blocker Removal Request FrequencyTracking Response Rate to Ad Blocker Removal Requests