Going Around the (Ad) Block

Posted by Apomaya on Oct 23, 2018 12:27:28 PM

The battle continues to expand between free content, based on advertising revenue, and ad blocking technology. Ad blocking is being employed in numerous ways: (1) standalone apps, add-ons or utilities; (2) features in larger, multi-purpose apps; and, (3) increasingly, right into the browser itself. Currently, more than one in four users in the US use ad blocking. The proportion is even higher in Europe and Asia. Mobile users in all geographies have a much higher usage of ad blockers than desktop users, notably because of integration efforts from Apple and Google.

Ad blocking technology generally prevents ads from loading on a webpage by, for example, detecting the source of the ads trying to load or the type of media / display technology being utilized. Although initially targeting such intrusive display technologies as pop-ups, auto-playing videos, sticky graphical areas and large boxes that are superimposed over main content, nowadays blockers commonly prevent other ads, essential analytics and non-ad related aspects of a page from loading. For instance, a site may use a pop-up to enable visitors to register to gain access to special content or community areas. Some ad blockers will detect these kind of pop-ups and block them along with any other “ads”.

Ad blocking technology is continuing to advance and has many ardent supporters that vow to always stay ahead of ad technology and eventually be able to suppress digital advertising altogether.

Ad unblocking or anti-ad blocking provides some relief to publishers trying to continue the viability of their “free content in exchange for ad views” business models. Some unblocking technology detects the use of a blocker that is preventing ads from loading. These unblockers can display a message that asks viewers to turn off ad blocking altogether or just for this site. The unblockers may also prevent ad blocking users from seeing any content or send them to a page that requires payment for access to the content. Ad blockers are finding ways to circumvent these unblocking actions by outsmarting or preventing them from detecting the blocking technology.  

In the war between blocking and unblocking, the blockers are winning and currently have the best prognosis for the future. Beating ad blocking requires a new approach to stay ahead. In a deep analysis of the problem, researchers at Apomaya have determined that the way to prevent ad blocking is to fundamentally change the way a webpage comes together.

Webpages come together based on underlying code that describes how a page should look and behave, what content and images should be included, from where this content originates, as well as other factors and attributes. Today, websites that use digital advertising include a number of add-ons from third parties. This third-party code comes from many different entities involved with the Byzantine digital ad ecosystem. This code is extremely difficult to sort out and makes it nearly impossible to know who is doing what with your website. At the same time, ad blockers use common and recognizable features of advertising content and trackers to zero in on ads and block them.

Apomaya engineers have developed technology to transparently rewrite webpages in real time before they are delivered to a visitor’s browser. In rewriting pages, all of the third-party code and calls are converted to first-party code. Rather than a patchwork of first- and third-party code, the webpage becomes a uniform, integrated property that is coming exclusively from the publisher. In this state, it is extremely difficult to figure out what is content and what is advertising. Ad blockers cannot make the determination and fail to work.

By changing the way webpages are assembled, Apomaya can defeat even the most advanced ad blockers.

There are other tremendous advantages to rewriting webpages and converting third-party code to first-party. Publishers now have a way to make the complex, opaque third-party code transparent and controllable. Under the third-party system, publishers relinquish control to other companies. Some of these might even be criminal organizations that use the murky third-party system to plant malicious code or create ways to steal passwords and identities. The third-party system also creates compliance and privacy issues for publishers or performance and user interactivity problems for visitors.

By gaining uniformity, visibility and control, publishers can defeat ad blocking, regain user trust and ensure quality of experience and compliance with laws. Learn more about Apomaya and our breakthrough technology:

View the AdGain datasheet
Read the white paper: Bringing Transparency to the Digital Ad Ecosystem

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