Ad blockers have been a thorn in the side of publishers for the past several years, draining revenue from publications and cutting into their main method of generating income. Now, more companies and publishers are starting to fight back—and some are even going so far as to try blocking the blockers. Twitch, an online video game streaming service, is one of the latest sites to do this. It may be time for publishers across the Web to follow their lead and become more aggressive in blocking ad blockers from their sites.
Twitch was founded in 2011 as an outlet for video gamers to share their adventures online. Users can log onto the platform and stream their gameplay so that other users can watch. Some of these streamers generate income from the site, accruing hundreds of thousands of followers. Twitch pays out part of the ad revenue to streamers, and offers an ad-free version for a price, which also partially goes to the streamers. Now Twitch has introduced its SureStream technology, which is in the same vein as Facebook’s effort to block ad blockers from operating on its site.
Facebook introduced its own way to circumvent ad blockers last fall, and subsequently reported an 18 percent increase in desktop ad revenue in Q3 of 2016. Facebook CFO David Wehner has pointed to the takedown of ad blockers as a major reason for this increase. Facebook has created a roadmap for using this technology as it tries to stay ahead of the ad blockers every day, and Twitch aims to follow the same path.
Both Facebook and Twitch use technology that makes the coding for the ad content resemble the rest of the content on the site. They’re simply tricking the ad blockers into thinking that the advertisements on the page aren’t ads. This could potentially become a way for more publishers to fight this battle in the future, supplanting today’s largely passive stance with a more aggressive strategy. Twitch hasn’t promised a total roadblock for ad blocking technology, but has promised to “reduce the efficacy” of ad-blocking technology.
Twitch CRO Jonathan Simpson-Bint says, “SureStream helps ensure [that gaming broadcasters] can keep doing what they love, while providing a more seamless experience for viewers. It also helps attract and retain advertisers who are now able to effectively reach an elusive audience.” That last point is important for publishers. Providing more attractive spaces for advertisers on your pages, by reaching a hard-to-find audience or proving that your readers will buy from the advertisers, is bound to boost revenue. Disallowing ad blockers to operate on your site can provide an immense advantage for your publication.
This represents another shot of good news for the publishing industry regarding the ongoing bane of ad blockers. In many parts of the world, ad blocker usage seems to be plateauing, with growth becoming stagnant in several European countries. Ad creators are also realizing the importance of creating effective, engaging ads to draw in readers. For too long ad blockers have had the technological advantage over publishers, but now things seem to be changing in favor of those distributing the content, and that’s good news for publishers going into 2017.