Retro spoiler alert: “Soylent Green is People!”

That final line of the 1963 film became iconic and is still listed in most top movie quotes lists. It was a revelation, a kept secret despite a society where every man woman and child knew of the Soylent Green brand, but not the ingredients.

Similarly, the ad tech industry is being disrupted by technology that empowers people to have more choice over their web experience and personal data. People are not uni-dimensional eyeballs, a homogeneous ‘audience’, or mere stats to track. Nothing has made that more prevalent than the adoption of adblocking technology and the demands for greater privacy and control.

For the digital ad industry this is a large and growing problem. Digiday reports research from Global Web Index that 47% of internet users use adblocking technology today, and Digiday suggests the cost to publishers could exceed $35 billion by 2020. So what should publishers and brands keep in mind about the diverse preferences of their visitors, and the need for nimble visitor relationship solutions?

Reasons for using adblocking technology vary greatly among internet users:

The Unaware Adblocker

An Admiral survey of over 5000 adblock users reported that 68% did not personally install or turn on their adblocking software. 19% didn’t know who installed it, and 10% didn’t even know they had adblocking software running. Their browser might default to a privacy mode that disrupts ads. This is a growing concern with Firefox recent decision to turn on enhanced ad tracking blockers as the default for millions of users.

  • Takeaway: Publishers should not assume that adblocker users made a conscience choice, or that they dislike seeing good ads. This group is more open to whitelist your website or turn off their adblocker if they are shown a quick and easy way to accomplish it.

Desire for Greater Online Privacy

Some users have turned to adblockers to have more control and privacy while online. It’s not necessarily the ads they are concerned about, but the amount of information that is shared about their internet behavior across the web.

  • Takeaway: This group is less likely to have a concern with ads if they are given the option to control the experience. They are more open to whitelisting a site they trust if given the option. Make it easy to whitelist your website, and provide content that addresses trust and privacy concerns.

It’s Not Ads, it’s the Ad Experience!

Data from the Global Web Index study reports that over 40% of the respondents were concerned about too many ads, intrusive ads, or irrelevant ads on websites they visit. ThinkWithGoogle data reports 63% installed an adblocker because of too many ads.

  • Takeaway – Most adblocker users are not zealots against the idea of digital advertising entirely. Some are asking for a better ad experience.  According to Hubspot research, 68% of adblockers state they are willing to view ads “if they are not annoying”.

    Publishers should consider testing offers and options with their visitors to find out what level of engagement or ad experience they prefer. Options include but are certainly not limited to paid subscriptions to ad-free content, sponsored ad-free passes, ad-lite options, email or social sign-ups, and more. Publishers should review and improve the overall ad experience to avoid pushing more visitors to adopt adblocking.

Growing Visitor Relationships

Maximizing and finding alternate methods of driving revenue continues to be a priority for publishers. Painting all visitors, or even all adblock users, with a broad brush will almost certainly miss opportunities. People are not clones, they have diverse needs and choices. They want control and options. Publishers that have a blend of tools to engage visitors will have a stickier site, greater revenue, and be more valued by visitors.


At Admiral, we recognized  there was a conflict with the traditional publisher – visitor ad model. Visitors have discreet priorities, as do publishers and brands, and a platform was needed to help provide more innovative and effective solutions for engagement.  The Admiral Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) Platform was created to address these diverse needs, making it quick and easy for a publisher to address:

  • Whitelist-based recovery
  • Custom ad-lite experiences
  • Email or social site subscription management
  • Unique offers such as brand-sponsored ad-free passes
  • Privacy consent
  • Per-site, per-content piece, and multi-site digital subscriptions
  • Testing innovative offers and pricing tailored to visitor segments

Visitors are people, treat them as such and their loyalty will become your competitive advantage.


For a demo of how Admiral’s Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) platform expands the relationship between publishers and users beyond the one-dimensional eyeballs & ads model. >>> Get a Free Demo