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How Publishers Can Turn Adblock Users Into Paying Subscribers

We’re living in challenging times for digital publishers. While the Facebook-Google duopoly continues to grab an ever-increasing share of digital advertising budgets, a growing segment of consumers are turning to adblock software or adblock extensions to disable ads completely. In this harsh climate, publishers are increasingly turning to subscription models as a sustainable source of revenue. 

Dollars for paying subscribers are considerably more reliable than fickle advertising CPM’s providing publishers with a stable, diversified and sustainable path to profitability. Perhaps most surprisingly, those same readers who are currently using adblocking tools may be among your best bets for converting to a paid content subscription. Adblock monetization should include both near-term revenue recovery tactics, as well as opportunities for long term visitor engagement via paid subscriptions, email signups, and more.

Why adblockers might actually be your best subscribers

It might seem unlikely at first, but the same consumer who opted out of experiencing ads might be in your most likely pool of potential subscribers. After all, adblockers are a self-identified group within your existing audience who have already signaled a preference for  ad-free experiences.
In fact, a recent survey of Adblock users by Admiral  revealed that the majority of adblock users understand how publishers monetize their sites, with 60% saying they strongly agree that publishers have the right to earn revenue to pay for the content they create and publish.

Of course, acknowledging that publishers deserve to be paid for their content doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers are willing to disable adblock. In fact, they value an ad-free experience so much that the same survey found that many adblockers would be willing to support monetization in other ways.

Among those respondents 37% said they would be willing to sign up for an email newsletter, 27% said they would be willing to download a publisher app, and critically, 24% said they would be willing to pay for a monthly subscription. With that in mind, we’ve developed some tactics to help turn adblockers into paying subscribers.

Educate your audience

Our study showed that a majority of adblock users, roughly 60%, already agree that publishers should be paid for the content they produce, but some may not have made the connection between the ads they want to avoid, and the revenue you collect from your work. Since this is an audience that’s already receptive to the idea that you should be paid, it may simply be a matter of educating them on how that can happen.

Consider using site content to remind adblockers that producing the content they enjoy isn’t free. Remind them that if they’re using an adblocker, there’s no way for you to monetize the content that they choose to view and therefore less of an incentive to create more. Some adblockers cost money, so if they’re willing to pay for brute force adblocking that often hurts UX, they’re likely willing to pay for a better, ad-free content experience on your site.

Experiment with the plans you offer

Because of their commitment to a specific type of content experience, and their willingness to adopt new tools in order to improve their online experiences overall, adblockers are a great segment to test new models on. Consider using adblocking readers as a sample group to try out new pricing models for subscriptions and introduce new features before you release them to the wider audience.

While all adblockers are ostensibly seeking an ad-free experience, that doesn’t mean that’s all they want. Depending on the nature of your site, the adblocking visitors may be receptive to a subscription that offers premium content access while using their adblocking tools, while others may be more responsive to an ad-free subscription with optimized privacy, early access, VIP communities, author access, town halls or other member experiences that simply aren't possible from an external adblocker.

(Edit: Additionally, our block adblock research found that 68% of adblock users 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. These users would be more likely to whitelist your website, or disable their adblockers, if engaged and given simple path to a better experience.)

Engage directly with prospects

Ultimately, signing up for a subscription is an indication that a visitor is ready to deepen their relationship with your site. However, strong relationships are built over time. Understanding that adblockers have a higher than average propensity to convert to subscribers, take some time to identify and engage with them directly. By prompting these visitors to turn off their adblockers, subscribe to your email newsletter, or follow you on social,  begins a process of engagement and relationship that brings them further down the funnel toward becoming a subscriber.

A new model moving forward

It wasn’t so long ago that adblockers were seen as an existential threat to the digital advertising model. Allowing consumers the option to opt out unilaterally from advertising would prevent publishers from fully monetizing their content. Recent years have shown that other forces were equally capable of putting pressure on the ad model, but they’ve also revealed something valuable about the nature of our audiences.

Far from being a threat, adblockers can be the self-identified salvation of many publishers’ businesses as a beachhead to hone subscription pricing and experiences. By engaging thoughtfully, providing information, and offering a value exchange that meets their needs, an adblocker can be converted into a paying subscriber providing recurring revenue and ARPU (Average Revenue per User/visitor) that is multiples higher and more reliable than advertising CPMs.

Interested in growing subscribers across your web properties?

Admiral's  Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) system expands the relationship between publishers and users beyond the one-dimensional eyeballs & ads model.

>>> Get a Free Demo of the Admiral Visitor Relationship Management platform.
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