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Review of the AOP Ad Blocking Forum 2017 by Andrew Bartlam

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I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) annual Ad Blocking Forum. The event brought together a range of vendors, end users and technology experts to debate the issues and implications of Ad Blocking. My participation was as part of a vendor Tech Hotspot panel. We discussed and took audience questions on techniques and experiences regarding how publishers deal with lost revenue due to the rise of Ad Blockers. The panel was introduced by Richard Reeves, managing director of the AOP and included Ben Barokas, CEO and co-founder at Sourcepoint, Sagi Katz, head of business for UpOnIt.com and Dr Johnny Ryan, head of ecosystem at PageFair.

 

Prior to the panel, the audience heard from Oliver Van Wersch, CEO of Van Wersch Partners and previously a senior executive at Gruner & Jahr (G&J), a division of Bertelsmann. Oliver discussed how G&J had tried different techniques to reclaim ad revenue. It tried to unblock some ads using a local German technology provider but saw very limited success. Instead G&J decided to focus on communication, essentially asking users to turn off their Ad Blockers in order to receive free content. This strategy has worked to an extent, and it’s fair to say G&J has been reasonably happy with it, according to Oliver. However, it’s also clear that there is still lost revenue the company needs to address. Full disclosure, that’s where Instart Logic can add real value. That value is in the form of returned revenue!

 

Returning to the Tech Hotspot panel, there was some hearty dialogue around the issue of dealing with Ad Blockers. Chatham House Rules were in effect, so what happened in the room stays in the room. Nonetheless, it certainly provoked some stimulating discussion, with great answers from the expert panel to the audience’s thought-provoking questions.

 

Here’s my view, in full transparency, regarding the state of the market right now. Some vendors have purported to have Ad Unblocking technology. These are clearly fast moving away from this approach to focus on communications strategies with end users. My personal view is they’ve just found it too hard to make the technology work, and have had to concentrate on other means. At the same time, other vendors do purport to having Ad Un-Blocking technology but, to be frank, it breaks things or just un-blocks worthless ad inventory.

 

Why is Instart Logic different? It can be summed up by three aspects. Firstly, Ad Unblocking (which we call Ad Integrity) came out of a highly patented and unique capability that establishes a footprint in the end user’s browser. This allows the solution to recognise a call to an ad server and then encrypt that call, rendering the Ad blocker redundant and therefore un-blocking the Ad. This is a far cry from hashing the page or forcing the entire stack through one system. These other approaches can introduce a single point of failure, or worse, un-block a range of pre-fetched and rather worthless ads. This is why Instart Logic is already used by a quarter of the Comscore top 100, with more joining them. It is responsible for unblocking over 7 billion ads per month and increases ad revenue by 3-10%.

 

Secondly, Instart Logic’s history and pedigree is as a performance company. This means we have the global scale to support Ad Unblocking for global enterprise publishers. In fact, users that are able to view more pages in a given time due to better speed do indeed view more ads, which equals more unblocked revenue.

 

Thirdly, we re-enable and optimise web analytics tools such as Omniture, Comscore and Google Analytics, all of which are restricted by Ad Blockers.

 

Come and try us at www.instartlogic.com

 

Special thanks to the team at the AOP and Richard Reeves for the invite to be part of the debate.

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