The Origins of VRM and Why Every Publisher Needs It

(A version of this article originally appeared as part of the AdOps Decoder series at AdMonsters)

With one out of every three internet users using some form of adblocker or privacy blocker, the act of adblocking has been described as the largest consumer boycott of any industry in modern history.

Consumers made the choice to remove ads from their online content consumption and publishers paid the price in billions of dollars of lost ad revenue annually.

Admiral realized that to solve the issue, we had to convince consumers to make another conscious decision: support the content and creators they enjoyed, valued, and respected by selectively turning off their adblockers.

The Start of Visitor Relationship Management

When Admiral launched in 2015, the company focused on providing online publishers with a gold standard solution to recover revenue losses due to the rapidly increasing use of adblockers.

With the vast majority of publishers unable to monetize double-digit percentages of their audiences due to adblockers, we felt this was a problem that wasn’t going to go away, was only going to increase in magnitude, and was certainly one worth solving.

Unlike early solutions that forced ads to serve by disabling or circumventing the adblocker, Admiral decided to take a different approach.

Identify, Target & Engage

Our methodology was simple: detect the adblock user on-site, engage them with a customized message explaining why ads were important in supporting the continued operation of the site they were visiting, and offer them the chance to allow-list the site.

Focusing on enabling publishers to successfully convince users to allow ads unlocks their full ad-stack, and with increasing importance, their zero/1st party data collection efforts.

The simple act of making the appeal and asking for permission humanized the value exchange, demonstrated the publisher’s respect for the visitor, and highlighted the symbiotic relationship between the publisher, visitor, and advertiser.

Want to grow visitor relationships and revenue?

paid subscriptions  |  adblock recovery  | privacy consent
email & social media signups  |  donation campaigns  |  authenticated users

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Helping Publishers Build Relationships

Fast forward to 2022, we became really good at helping publishers get their visitors to agree to things. Now used by thousands of premium publishers and networks worldwide, the very same methodology employed by Admiral’s adblock recovery product expanded to solve additional challenges faced by publishers including:

  • Privacy & Consent Management
  • Paid subscriptions, memberships, paywalls, donations, micro-payment programs
  • Email acquisition
  • Growing social media channels
  • Site registration to build 1st-party relationships
  • Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) at its core leverages key principles from the eCommerce (CRM) and marketing automation industries to effectively build relationships with site visitors to maximize ARPV (Average Revenue Per Visitor).

Through machine learning-driven targeting and segmentation, VRM is designed to identify and profile various cohorts of visitors by putting the right offer in front of the right user at the right time with the intention of optimizing conversion rates across a litany of KPIs.

Getting adblock users to allow ads on your site, obtaining their consent, having them sign up for an email newsletter, follow your brand across various social networks, and even paying for your content all positively affect a publisher’s ability to monetize that user.


We Make It Easy:

One tag, One Dashboard, One Data Set, One Vendor, One UX

It wasn’t enough for Admiral to create a single platform that accomplished so many things, we had to make it extraordinarily easy to use.

We fully understand that publishing teams are stretched thin, and sometimes the most valuable resource is time and manpower. With virtually zero dev-lift, Admiral can be implemented by simply installing a single line of JS to the <head> of your site. Or, if you prefer, you could drop our tag in your tag manager or use our WordPress plugin or Cloudflare app.

Once the tag is on-site, publishers can access their revenue analytics, and turn on, set up, and manage any of our modules from a single dashboard.

How each of the modules (and data sets) are able to interact with each other through this universal dash is the key to VRM. To maximize conversions within a single user journey, the various events used as optimization signals need to be able to communicate with each other. For example, someone who decides to allow-list your site has indicated a level of brand affinity that may qualify them as a stronger candidate to sign up for a paid subscription (vs. a user that has yet to allow-list). If you’re using different vendors for adblock recovery and subscriptions, you’d better hope they both have APIs that play well with others.

Marketing Automation for Publishers

We help publishers build relationships, and relationships are the starting point to getting to know your customer. The more you know about your customer, the more you foster positive communication and interaction with your customer, and the greater the likelihood that the customer will purchase your product.

Sound familiar? These are the defining principles of CRM, which drive the eCommerce and retail markets.
Admiral’s Visitor Relationship Management Platform is the first of its kind to help publishers collect and leverage behavioral data to help determine a positive outcome for a multitude of KPIs that affect revenue.

For example, one of our publishers started using our adblock recovery module to engage their users to ask them to allow-list the sibeing able to identify this segment at scale, and then port team messages asking if they could pay the publisher instead of disabling their blockers. Now imagine having the ability to identify this segment at scale, and then being able to target that cohort of visitors with a subscription offer. Admiral VRM does exactly that.

Admiral's VRM brings true marketing automation to the publishing industry. In fact, in the 2022 Inc 5000 rankings, Admiral was the highest-ranked marketing automation solution (as well as top-ranked subscription management and adblock recovery solutions.)

A Visitor Revenue AI Tool for Publishers

A better understanding of your site visitors isn’t enough unless you have the ability to act on that data, which is what Admiral does using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

Using Admiral's Engage module, publishers can build a Visitor Journey of various Engagements and communicate multiple CTAs/Offers to activate users based on where they are in the journey. It automates the same strategy sales teams, retailers, and product managers leverage to usher target consumers through their respective pipelines.

Admiral's ChatGPT integration and tools A/B test automation, results in Generative AI to Generate Revenue.

Admiral continues develop ways to drive publisher revenue with AI, by exploring how AI can enhance every conversion and visitor journey touchpoint. Whether the visitor is using an adblocker, falls under GDPR consent regulations, or is a good prospect for a paid subscription, the process can be enhanced with AI tools in Admiral's visitor engagement software.

Here's a live VRM walkthrough, along with 3rd party commentary by AdOps and Publishing leader Rob Beeler:


Your Visitor, Your Data

With 3rd party cookies going away, and new privacy regulations on the horizon, collecting zero/1st party data is becoming absolutely essential for creating revenue in the new norm.

For decades publishers relied on (and paid) 3rd parties to establish the relationships that fuel everything from advertising (Google) to even communicating with their customers (Facebook). Whether it’s collecting emails for UID purposes, conducting surveys to amplify targeting capabilities for ads, or having users register for an account so you can access users in a logged-in state, there’s an opportunity right now to bring some of that functionality back in-house.

We all know that the more data you have on a user, the more valuable that user is. Add consent to that equation and they become even more so. Every pubtech player with a CMP (including Admiral) will tell you that a consented user is xx% more valuable in a live auction setting than a non-consented user. We can also tell you that an adblock user who’s agreed to allow-list your site consumes 4x more pages than the average user, and drives higher CPMs in an RTB setting.

Admiral believes that the future of online monetization lies in consent-based, 1st-party visitor relationships between publishers and their visitors. Relationships matter. Relationships drive revenue growth and are the foundations to solving a myriad of challenges publishers face today.

The stronger the relationship with your visitors, the more value flows from each visit.

Request a demo today to see how Admiral's VRM platform can help grow your business.

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