How to make site monetization friends with AdBlock. Case study and Roxot

In 2020, ad blocking tools cost publishers worldwide $75 billion lost revenue. In Russia, the numbers are more modest, but on average 25-30% Russians block ads on PC and mobile devices. This means that publishers can lose a third of their ad revenue.

Why you need AdBlock

Most users are tired of intrusive ads or too many of them – they just infuriates evokes negative emotions and interferes with content consumption. From endless pop-up windows, autoplayed video ads with sound, and in general any advertising, the user is saved by the tools for blocking it – AdBlock.

Publishers can also be understood: CPM is leaping, the development of high-quality content is getting more expensive, and Google and Yandex are updating their search engine algorithms. You have to constantly look for new sources of income, and where only these searches do not lead.

How AdBlock works

The way ad blockers work is, in theory, pretty simple. Each AdBlock solution has a list of ad request urls. When a user visits a site, the blocker compares all web addresses requested from this site with its list. If the requested address matches the AdBlock data, the request is blocked. For publishers, this means losing all ad impressions.

How can you make money from users with AdBlock

Work on UX

It makes sense to start by eliminating the reason for the rise in popularity of AdBlock – poor site UX. Without improving the user experience, the rest of the AdBlock revenue recovery steps will not be effective. And work in this direction does not end with the rejection of intrusive ad formats. I will not go into the jungle of web analytics and UX, just note that even the smallest settings in the advertising stack can greatly affect the user experience, viewing depth, session length, etc. For example, an increase in heading bidding time or the inclusion of one ad network in an auction can significantly change the behavior of site visitors. Be sure to test and log every change (the usual tag in Y. Metric is already great) to evaluate the effect on UX.

What else can you do

  • Ask the user to disable AdBlock

With js it is possible to determine if a visitor is using AdBlock. If so, ask to disable the blocker in a pop-up window. You can motivate the user to do this in different ways. But as studies show, the method is not the most effective, if you do not apply some kind of sanctions – 46% will ignore your request.

  • Block access to content

Some publishers (Medium, Digiday, Wired, etc.) use ad walls: partial or complete overlap of content when using an ad blocker. According to Statista, 34% users are not confused by such conditions, especially if the content is unique.

  • Show ads over AdBlock

There are various products on the market that show display ads contrary to the ad blocker. For example, Oriel or PageFair (this is not an advertisement for these products, I am generally against such solutions.) They “protect” the publisher’s advertising tags by encrypting the requested addresses so that the ad block cannot determine the final address of the request as an advertising one. In my opinion, such a tactic goes against what the user wants, the real value of such impressions for advertisers is almost zero, and, therefore, this is a strategically wrong decision for a quality site.

  • Get into whitelist Acceptable Ads

Acceptable Ads allows sites to serve ads that meet certain requirements. This works for Adblock, Adblock Plus, uBlock or Crystal, which covers a fairly large percentage of all blocker users. World’s leading publishers use this tool to monetize your AdBlock audience including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, NYTimes, etc.

To get into the whitelist Acceptable Ads, ads on the site must meet certain parameters. Here are the basic requirements:

  • Ads must not contain animation;

  • The ad must be clearly marked with the word “advertisement” or “advertisement”;

  • The block cannot be inside the content, only at the top, side or bottom;

  • Advertising should be of certain sizes: if the block is located on top of the content, its height should not exceed 200px, below the content – 400px, on the side – 350px;

  • All downloaded ad units must not exceed 25% of the visible part of the page.

There is still about 7 other conditions for the mobile version of the site.

At Roxot, we adhere to the position that you need to find a balance between site income and user comfort. Paywall and content blocking are also a compromise, but not for all sites. But working with Acceptable Ads is a great and versatile solution.

How we increased revenue with Acceptable Ads

The Habr team has always prioritized user comfort. The site initially had an excellent environment for implementing a solution with Acceptable Ads – a comfortable design with a small amount of advertising. Therefore, the UX preparation part was skipped, and here’s what remained to be done:

  • Determine whether the user has AdBlock enabled or not;

  • If enabled, then request individual ad units;

  • Prepare ad unit settings to meet Acceptable Ads requirements;

  • Get approval from Acceptable Ads and wait for the domain to be added to the whitelist.

Identifying users with AdBlock

With the help of js, determines whether the user has AdBlock. If a blocker is found, a custom parameter is sent to the ad server, conditionally adblock = on. And here we are already getting involved in the work as partners in the monetization of the site. In our ad server, the adblock = on parameter is configured to call ad units tailored specifically to the requirements of AA.

Preparation of ad units according to requirements

This is the most voluminous and important task in the process, since our advertising stack on includes Google AdX, YAN and partners in header bidding. This means that you had to set up ad restrictions in each ad network separately. As a result, we:

  • Removed all animated ads

You will be surprised, but this task has become the biggest pain. For some partners, this can be done with the click of a button, but in Google AdX, for example, it is not so easy to disable animation. For them, we set up special Native styles and completely blocked displays of any other formats. For implementation details, write to me in the TG.

  • Changed the location of the caption “Advertising”

Historically, on, the ad caption was at the bottom of the ad unit. But Acceptable Ads requires it to be immediately visible to the user, so we moved this label to the top.

  • Cause different ad sizes depending on the user’s screen resolution

This is important because ads should not take more than 15% of the screen on the first page load and more than 25% after scrolling the page. At the time of the request, we determine the user’s screen resolution and his place on the page and, depending on this, we request certain ad sizes. Technically, this is again implemented using custom parameters. I can tell you more in TG.

  • We are in constant contact with Acceptable Ads

The lists of approved sites are constantly updated and it often happens that a domain was excluded from them for objective and not very reasons. Therefore, we are constantly in touch with Acceptable Ads and make sure that the domain is up-to-date whitelist. In general, the whole process of domain approval lasted about 2 months – the guys now and then found some flaws on our part.


Now Habr’s income with AdBlock is about 17% of the total income from programmatic advertising. Without working out the UX and adapting the advertising stack to the requirements of Acceptable Ads, the site could earn almost 20% less. For most large publishers, growing XX% seems like a daunting task, if not impossible. But provided that you are constantly improving the user experience and you have a friendly website UI, the above actions can bring additional income here and now.

Share your experience with AdBlock users in the comments.

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