ad blocker solution

How to Fight Ad Blockers Successfully Using 7 Psychological Phenomenons

So ad blockers am I right?! It’s easier to down a wheat grass smoothie than it is to get an ad impression nowadays. Publishers are feeling the pain of ad blockers and if you landed on this page you’re probably no different. But don’t fear, this is not another whiny post about ad blockers. 

This is a stop crying about it and take action post. However, if you want some background info before we get started, here’s a handy infographic that will take you through it, show you the numbers, and give your banker the jitters.

ad blocking infograhipc

Bottom line, ad blockers mean that every ad impression just became more valuable and you need to make the most out of each one. Obviously, this means you need to get serious about optimizing your ad setup with AdNgin to improve your CTR and increase ad revenue. But that’s not why we gathered you here today.

This blog post will teach you 7 psychological theories, practices, and tricks you need to know to fight ad blockers and maximize your ad earnings.

7 psychological phenomenons that can help you understand and fight ad blockers:

  1. The Foot in the Door Technique
  2. The Focusing Effect
  3. Information Bias
  4. Investment Model
  5. Social Identity Theory
  6. Confirmation Bias
  7. The Ben Franklin Effect

1. The Foot in The Door Technique

Agreeing to a small request increases the likelihood of agreeing to another one. This is one of the most widely used sales techniques based on psychological theory. Door-to-door salespeople have been using it for years (hence then name).

For example, “Would you like to hear about our newest vacuum cleaner?” Turns into: “would you like to purchase a vacuum cleaner?”

Many websites do it too. Offering a free trial for online software is based on the foot in the door technique. In fact, the entire advertising premise of offering free content in exchange of having a look at some ads is based on the foot in the door technique. 

So, if the foot in the door technique works, then the odds are that someone who clicked on your ads have probably clicked on other ads before. Therefore, it would make sense that users who land on your website after clicking an ad are more likely to click another ad on your website. 

Also, users who engage with your content have agreed to spend time on your website. They may be more likely to click on ads.

Take Action: Segment your audience and test to see if visitors that landed on your pages click more ads displayed on your website. And, provide a different page setup for return users to drive them towards your money making conversions more actively.

the foot in the door technique ad blockers


2. The Focusing Effect

People tend to focus on one aspect of an event – while failing to recognize other factors. Ad blockers are the symptom, not the problem. User experience is the problem.

Rather than getting stuck on visitors using ad blockers, focus on improving UX – and revenue will keep coming in. Not only will a better experience increase revenue, but it will also keep visitors coming back – which will provide long-term growth.

Take action: rather than allowing yourself to focus on small elements that you can’t control, like ad blockers, focus your energy on the areas of your business that you can control, like maximizing revenue from your viewable ad impressions and producing great content. Focus on growing your audience and increasing your click-through rate. If you do that, losing a few impressions to ad blockers won’t matter as much.

3. Information Bias

Information bias is the idea that more information is always better – even when it’s not.

A great example of this is when a large organization hires a consulting firm to tell them how to motivate their employees. For millions of dollars, the consultants will study the organization’s staff and come up with useful motivation techniques.

Nothing a brief Google search couldn’t have provided. Meanwhile, the funds used to hire the consultants could have gone towards an annual bonus – if my boss is reading then this would be my recommended strategy for pretty much anything – which would probably be more motivating than the conclusions developed by the consultants.

Bringing this back to your website, remember that today’s society consumes information like chiclets. This means that you spend hours reading “just one more article” to gain an additional sliver of insight. Even if the information isn’t 100% novel.

Rather than continuously consuming content developed by self proclaimed gurus, get out there and start testing different techniques to see what really works. Sure, reading is helpful, but doing is even more beneficial. You know enough to try something different – so start doing it and stop listening to terrible advice.

Take action: recognize that your visitors are looking for more content – constantly. Even if they know 99% of what’s possible, they will still want to read up on the subject. Therefore, don’t hesitate to remix your current content in new ways to provide deeper insights without requiring much additional effort on your part.

online content consumption


4. Investment Model

Similar to the idea of “sunk costs” in economics, investment modeling proposes that we decide whether or not to do something based on the cost, reward, and our previous investment in the activity.

Just as young lovers stay in unhealthy relationships because they have no better alternative, you may be giving up thousands of dollars in advertising because, well, “that’s the way I’ve always done it”.

Once we feel comfortable with a process, it’s very difficult to change. Even as the reward dwindles and the cost increases, we patiently wait – hoping for something better.

Take action: just cut the cord! Stop trying to monetize your website the exact same way you did five years ago. The internet has changed, and it’s about time that you change as well.

Forget about things that have happened or costs that have been spent in the past, and look towards the future. Recognize our human tendency to focus on the cost of changing, and start focusing on the rewards that may come with doing things differently.

5. Social Identity Theory

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for teenagers to categorize and be categorized? He’s “emo”, she’s a “prep”, those guys are “jocks”. Although teens are the most obvious, we all associate ourselves with specific groups – and we all want to fit in.

This phenomena is known as Social Identity Theory. Basically, we tend to exaggerate our similarities with those in our “in” group, and emphasize the differences we have with those we consider to be outsiders. It’s about fitting in but it’s also about self-perception. You will make yourself similar to the group you perceive yourself to belong to and vice-versa.

Ding, ding. This is an incredibly useful insight for web publishers…That’s you.

If users come to identify themselves with you and the other readers of your content, they will be more likely to keep visiting, sign up for your email list, and follow you on social media. Even if they don’t love everything you read, because their social group is involved with your website, they will want to be as well.

Take action: understand who your audience is and identify with them through your content. Although this may not increase ad revenue right away, increasing your following is always a positive.  Even if visitors have ad blocker on one of their devices, odds are, they will occasionally visit your website from another device. 

6. Confirmation Bias

You don’t like being wrong. Who does?! Once you’ve made a decision or formed a hypothesis, you seek out information that supports your original decision – and then hold on to it like your life depends on it.

Sticking with a wrong decision can be harmful for anyone, but especially for publishers.

The monetization strategy that worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Many online entrepreneurs have lost fortunes after trying to recreate the success they had several years ago. Junk content stuffed with keywords ranked on Google five years ago, but it doesn’t now.

Take action: don’t assume that the same techniques will work forever and don’t listen to the self proclaimed gurus…not us of-course…listen to us :). Instead, listen to your audience. Continually test your website to discover the best ways to attract readers, gain subscribers, and maximize revenue. Not only will this keep you from falling behind, but you may discover the next “best practice”. Then you can tell everyone else what to do.

7. The Ben Franklin Effect

If you get this one right, you’ll definitely be rollin’ in Benjamins…sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves. Before he was synonymous with a hundred dollar bill, Benjamin Franklin once asked a business competitor if he could borrow a book. This competitor had caused countless problems for Ben in the past. However, after lending him the book, the competitor became invested in Franklin’s success – and was one of his greatest supporters from that point on.

The realization here is that people become invested in those they help.

Take action: Here’s a novel idea, ask your readers for their help with something. Involve them in your website. Once someone helps you in some way, they will inevitably want you to succeed.

If your readers have already invested in your success by following you on social media or signing up for your email, they will be more inclined to keep helping you. Therefore, they may decide that they want you to earn from your website and turn off their ad blocker, make purchases through your other affiliate links, or simply donate to your site.

Never underestimate the benefit of asking someone for a favor. Hey, if Hubspot do it, why not you?!

fighting ad blocker tactics


The psychology behind ad blockers involves both you and your readers

Maximizing the revenue of your website begins with you. You must start by looking past your own confirmation bias’ and focusing on what truly matters to grow your business.

Meanwhile, understanding the psychology of your readers allows you to format your website in a way that will keep them visiting, reading, and clicking on ads.
What are your thoughts? What psychological ideas have improved your understanding of content marketing and website monetization?

I’m Head of Marketing Operations at AdNgin. Before coming to AdNgin, I was a marketing professional focused on SAAS business models. When I’m not working, which is rare, I sail and hang out with my son, Jonathan, and wife, Meital.
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