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Ad Blocking Q&A with Sagi Katz, Head of Business, Uponit

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Company information:

 

Uponit, founded in 2015, 15 employees, working with leading premium publishers worldwide.

 

What is your approach to the challenge of ad blocking? Why?

 

Ad recovery is the only approached which has been proven to work over the long term, across different publishers, territories and audiences. The only caveat is the choice of the ad recovery vendor, which is crucial for the success of such implementation and ad provisioning.

 

The main reasons why ad recovery by Uponit works:

  1. Users understand that free content comes at a cost. When ad blocking users are exposed to ads in exchange for free content, their love for free content far exceeds their dislike towards ads. It is the publisher’s responsibility, of course, to ensure that the ad experience its readers get is fair and balanced.
  2. Results are conclusive. Our publishers have experienced similar engagement and retention behaviors of ad blocking users compared to regular users, with minimal to no complaints.
  3. It’s automatic. All ad placements are automatically recovered, however, publishers can choose to only recover select placements and provide ad blocking users with an "ad light" experience.
  4. It’s streamlined. Users are not blocked from accessing their content and do not need to take complex actions to see what they came for. In contrast, asking users to whitelist a site, by disabling the ad blocker, almost always sends the majority of users away, causing publishers brand and revenue damage.
  5. Premium publishers are rarely the trigger for installing ad blockers. Ad blocking software blocks all content on all websites by default, as a result of their business model. Our results show that trusted publishers offering a good ad experience win back lost ad revenue without witnessing any user backlash. Facebook is also a good reference to the success of ad recovery, having been successfully recovering ads since Q3 2016.
  6. Renders ad blockers ineffective. This heavily depends on the ad recovery solution employed. Uponit’s ad recovery solution completely bypasses ad blockers due to the use of sophisticated technologies that ensure that all ad related communication never goes "through" the ad blockers, but "above" them, thereby removing the threat of dangerous cat-and-mouse games.

Should more publishers take action to combat ad blocking? Why?

 

Publishers today face existential threats from a number of directions, the main one being Facebook and Google that now control distribution, user attention and ad revenues. Ad blocking is one challenge that is not going away and can be solved quite easily, therefore we believe that publishers cannot afford to simply ignore it. Publishers should first measure how bad their ad blocking problem is and then implement ad recovery on their sites in a scaled manner, while monitoring user behavior.

 

What’s your elevator pitch to a publisher?

 

Uponit offers the only ad recovery solution today that is seamless to deploy (JavaScript integration only)‚Äč, lets online publishers continue to serve their existing ad campaigns (all ad types, on both desktop and mobile), using their existing ad servers and ad operations, with full 1st and 3rd party pixel tracking and cookie targeting support, as well as with proven, durable immunity against all ad blockers. Uponit also offers a messaging layer so publishers can communicate their decision to their audience or even ask them to opt-in.

 

We are recovering billions of ad impressions for our partners and their audience remains fully engaged on their sites.

 

What can you tell us about the methods you have used and the results you have achieved?

 

We’ve recently released a case study with Mako.co.il, Israel’s no.1 entertainment site. Mako has 1 million daily active users and 100 million monthly page views on desktop. Its core audience is 22-45 years old. We’ve started recovering Mako’s display ads in June 2016 and since then moved to recover their video ads in their editorial section, and recently also took over ad recovery in their exclusive video-on-demand section, which until then was blocked for ad blocking users.

 

In the first half of 2017, we’ve helped Mako increase its display ad revenues by 32%-39%, while average session times went up by 3.2% and bounce rates went down by 0.4%. There were less than 10 user complaints on ad blocking over this period.

 

We are recovering billions of ads for our partners and so far publisher retention is 100%. We’ve also never been re-blocked by ad blockers, although they are very familiar with the websites we run on.

 

What are the key industry developments that are driving the ad blocking challenge now and future? How should publishers respond?

 

It all starts with the simple truth that as long as it is easy, free and legit for users to block ads - they will, just as they skip ads on TV. Google’s new default Chrome ad filter, to be released beginning of 2018, is an important step in cleaning up the ecosystem from intrusive ads and bad actors and Uponit fully supports this initiative. However, it is unlikely to keep new users from installing ad blockers nor will it encourage existing users to remove their ad blockers. The reason is simple - Google is an ad network. Its filters are based on the "Better Ads Standards" of the Coalition for Better Ads, which it is a member of. Such guidelines are lax compared to other ad blockers, which will likely promote such difference as a key selling point to win more users.

 

On the mobile front, there is currently a big anomaly in the European browser space. Chrome, with a 57% market share, offers no ad blocker, while Safari (26%) and Samsung (10%) offer an opt-in ad blocker, and Brave, Firefox Focus and UC Browser (the leading browser in Asia), which all offer a built-in ad blocker, have no market share at all. This status quo will likely change at a fast pace as mobile browsers fight to win market share promoting themselves as "user protectors" and providing more functionality around privacy, tracking prevention and ad blocking. Google is very much aware of this and its Chrome ad filter initiative can be viewed as a preventive action against such forces. Albeit Google’s efforts, we believe that much like in Asia, browsers that go “all in” will eventually win more market share and force publishers to look for solutions.

 

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