How to tell your AdBlock users to disable it like a boss

This article was originally published on Tumblr, reposting it here for completeness.

Boy, I don’t use Tumblr very often nowadays. Well, I wanted to write this article because, first of all, I hate ads and I know everyone else hates ads, myself I have uBlock with the anti-AdBlock killer on, but I also know people depends on it to make some good internet money and they want to do everything so their users can see the ads, even going as far as blocking the site’s content unless AdBlock is disabled… I have reasons to believe you’d piss these users off instead. I want to help fellow webmasters into making a better Internet, so this article attempts to show a way to have ads on and keep your users the most diligent way possible. Here goes the long post…

Choose a good ad network

First of all, one of the first reasons, if not the first, people install AdBlock or similar software is that ads are one of the easiest ways to carry viruses and other malware, with Flash/HTML5 ads and such. So you’ll want to make sure, with the right settings on whichever network you choose, to only serve images, no Flash, no foreign Javascript that could carry malware inserted into the ad. The popular one is Google AdSense, I personally use Project Wonderful, which also lets your users continually bid on your ad boxes instead of the standard CPM/CPC model and only accept image ads, as far as I know. I won’t show you how to place your ads, but it does help if you’re reasonable about them. Think like a normal user who don’t want ads in their way and find a good compromise. Actually, more on that in the next paragraph…

Subscribe to AdBlock Plus’ Acceptable Ads Initiative

If you can convince your users your ads are not annoying and full of viruses, they are probably more likely to disable their AdBlock for you. The fine guys behind AdBlock Plus have published a set of guidelines to follow so your ad won’t be considered annoying. If you follow these guidelines to the letter and if you ask them nicely, they might whitelist your ad in their software, which would give you a bit of a boost in ad views and clicks! And it’s free! (That is, if your site is not a giant and make “more than 10 million additional ad impressions per month due to participation in the Acceptable Ads initiative”…) It’s a bit controversial, but hey, it works. If you contact them, it might take something like 2 weeks before they even get to your case and another 3-4 days before they add your ads to the whitelist, so be patient, it’s worth it.

Read more about it: https://adblockplus.org/acceptable-ads

Don’t block your content and convince your users

What is more annoying than an intrusive popup telling you to disable AdBlock? Your visitors with AdBlock on might as well leave your site instead of actually disabling AdBlock and you might lose views. So just don’t do that, or you’d give the impression you’re a greedy person and your site exists for the money. You definitely don’t want that. So when you detect your user has AdBlock enabled, you’ll still want to write a nice message above the fold, but nothing intrusive, saying something along the lines, “the website wouldn’t exist without the ad money” (because, well, that’s often why you put ads in there and users will understand that) and/or “I promise the ads are not annoying and full of viruses” (because you did the above like a nice admin). Maybe even mention the Acceptable Ads Initiative, you’ll show them it’s true and you followed guidelines from AdBlock software.

I mean, convince your users, and make as simple as possible

Another thing you can do, and I don’t think anyone did that yet, is to provide a subscription link to an AdBlock filter you made that unblocks your ads with the above message, like, “Click here to disable AdBlock/AdBlock Plus/uBlock for this site”. Your users will click on that link like if it was any other link to, for instance, close that message, it’s that simple for them. Again, I won’t show you how to do that (maybe in another blog post?), I believe there’s a bunch of tutorials on how to write filter lists and provide an abp: URL pointing to it, but I do think it’s infinitely better than providing something like 4 different sets of instructions for each adblock software, browser and operating system out there. If you did the Acceptable Ads step above, they will provide you with a set of filter rules they will put in their list, you can definitely use that, you can also ask them for assistance for making a simple list with those rules to host on your server.

So there you go, I think I went around the subject, I hope these guidelines worked on your website and boosted your ads a bit! Of course, you can’t convince everyone, some people are convinced ads are bad no matter what (that’s why the Acceptable Ads Initiative is controversial), but you still can add some nice users with these guidelines. Obviously, I’m not your visitors, so I don’t guarantee this will work at all, but eh, at least you tried and made your site better.

Read it all? Have a walrus, you can thank me later. Don’t forget to share it with all your friends who have websites!