The Ultimate Publisher’s Need-to-Know Guide to Ad Blockers

For the past few years, publishers have been battling a trend that threatens to damage their traditional monetization model: the ad blocker.

The rise in ad blockers is no coincidence. Some publishers’ poor advertising practices means that the entire publishing industry must now contend with ad blockers.

But just how popular are ad blockers? If this Google Trends graph is any indication, ad blockers have jumped in popularity, and they’re here to stay.

PageFair confirms that development in its 2017 Adblock Report, stating that 615 million devices now use ad blockers, and 11 percent of the global internet population is blocking ads on the web.

With ad blockers becoming ever more popular, it’s time for publishers to brush up on what, exactly, they’re up against.

How Ad blockers Work

There are two main types of ad blockers: extensions and browsers. Extension ad blockers are by far the most popular, and for good reason. These ad blockers work with a user’s existing browser to block ad content coming from known ad servers.

Some of the more popular extension ad blockers available today are AdBlock Plus, AdBlock and Adguard.

AdBlock Plus

AdBlock Plus works with most major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Maxthon, Opera, Safari, and Yandex.

With about 100 million active users, AdBlock Plus is the second most popular adblocker available. AdBlock Plus blocks all major intrusive ad formats, including banners, pop-ups, tracking, and even malware. By default, non intrusive ads aren’t blocked.

The good news is that AdBlock Plus does allow advertisers and publishers to be whitelisted, meaning that those publishers have agreed to abide by user-generated criteria regarding ad practices.

AdBlock Plus only requires large publishers to pay them a share of the revenue they generate from their ads. An organization qualifies as “large” when it gains more than 10 million additional ad impressions per month. The normal licensing fee for these organizations is 30 percent of the additional revenue created by whitelisting ads.


AdBlock works with fewer browsers than AdBlock Plus, but it’s still a force to reckon with. It’s compatible with most of the major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari. AdBlock has around 40 million total users and blocks ads by using a series of filter lists to automatically block ad content coming from known ad servers and providers.

Users can keep the default block lists, subscribe to additional ones, or even create their own. They can also whitelist their favorite websites.


Another extension blocker, Adguard works with all browsers. With about 4 million users, it’s a small but mighty contender in the adblocking world. Adguard blocks ads before a page is even loaded to the browser. The Windows extension checks all the loading elements of a webpage before they’re loaded to the browser.

Adguard does offer its users the option to whitelist useful ads.

UC Browser

UC Browser is by far the most popular adblocker available. This browser-type adblocker has about 400 million users. Most of its users are in China, but UC Browser is popular worldwide with those who are tired of dealing with ads. It works by detecting ads and preventing them from loading on a page. UC Browser also automatically rearranges the elements on a webpage to replace the missing ads.

Users do have the option to disable ad blocking from their browser’s settings.

Adblocking With Artificial Intelligence

Students at Princeton have taken adblocking a step further by creating an artificial intelligence-based adblocker. The blocker works by using computer vision, instead of code matching, to detect and block ads. The program uses optical character recognition, container searches, and other computer vision techniques to imitate the way humans recognize ads.

This method is better able to recognize and block ads because it looks for clues the same way a human would to recognize ads. It can essentially block any ad that complies with regulations and has the potential to be the best adblocker possible.

Ad blocking Goes Mobile

In addition to using ad blockers on their computers, many users are opting to use ad blockers on their mobile phones as well. According to PageFair, at least 309 million people are blocking ads on smartphones, and there are 50 percent more mobile ad blockers than desktop ad blockers.

The most popular type of mobile ad blocker is the browser. UC Browser was the most popular browser ad blocker for mobile. However, there are also ISP ad blockers and in-app ad blockers.

ISP ad blockers, like Digicel and Shine, prevent third party ads in an ISP network before they reach their users’ phones. In-app blockers, like AdBlock or AdShaker, block ad in apps by configuring the device-wide VPN or an HTTP proxy.

How to Handle Ad blockers

It’s no secret that publishers are losing money thanks to ad blockers, but all is not lost. The good news is that there are steps you can take to handle this spreading technology.

The first step publishers can take is to pay the ad blockers to let their ads through. This pay-to-play strategy shouldn’t be that surprising, considering it shows up elsewhere in the online world, especially social media.

Another step you can take is to get your website whitelisted with ad blockers. To do that, you’ll need to adhere to their acceptable practices, but your ads will have a better chance of being seen. AdBlock Plus allows publishers to apply for whitelisting, but others may not.

Finally, publishers can look into diversifying revenue. Identifying other streams of income is a good way to ease the pressure you may be feeling from ad blockers. Revenue options like affiliate marketing, a user subscription model, native advertising, or sponsored content are available to most publishers.

Both native advertising and sponsored content have grown in use in recent years, and they offer publishers a way to create new content and make money without having to worry about ads.

AdTechMedia Solutions

AdTechMedia knows the frustrations and struggles publishers face when trying to monetize their sites. That’s why we’ve created three different ways publishers can take advantage of different revenue streams. With our seamless solutions, you can start monetizing your site in user-friendly ways that don’t detract from your visitors’ site experience.

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Check out the slideshare below to get a better picture of how much adblockers have grown and how they’re currently affecting the online publishing industry.