Media Pitch: How Blockthrough Helps Publishers Recover Millions in Ad Revenue
Ad blockers have grown into a massive problem for online publishers. Some analysts estimate that by 2020, publishers will lose nearly $75 billion annually to ad blockers. This movement is fueled by users’ exasperation with intrusive ad experiences and growing privacy concerns.
Despite user backlash, online advertising is not going the way of the dodo, says Marty Krátký-Katz co-founder and CEO of Blockthrough. According to the tech startup’s research, 70% of ad block users are opted in to viewing lighter ads, giving publishers an opportunity to reengage this audience with less intrusive advertising. Blockthrough’s technology helps publishers reach these users and recover revenue that would have otherwise been lost.
In this interview, Krátký-Katz explains how Blockthrough was founded and why its unique approach to header bidding sets it apart from other ad block revenue recovery technologies.
What is your technology and how does it work?
Blockthrough is the leading ad block revenue recovery platform. We help publishers recover the money they lose to ad blockers, while creating a more acceptable advertising experience for their visitors.
When users visit the site with an ad blocker enabled, Blockthrough’s technology kicks in and, depending on whether they’ve opted-in to seeing a lightweight ad experience, we serve an ad deemed “acceptable” through the ad blocker.
What problem are you solving or opportunity are you enabling?
Publishers are getting squeezed by the current reality of limitless media options, buyers seeking media validation, user control by the big walled gardens of Facebook, Amazon, and Google, customer shifts to mobile and video -- and on top of all that -- you have millions of people using ad blockers -- with estimates at roughly 615 million worldwide. To ad blockers alone, publishers are losing approximately $42 billion each year. That annual rate is forecasted to reach nearly $75 billion in lost revenue worldwide by 2020 (according to research from Ovum).
But ad blocking is not a zero-sum game. In fact, we found around 70% of all ad block users that visit sites within our portfolio have actually opted in to seeing lighter ads, even though they’re using an ad blocker. Thus, there’s an opportunity for publishers to recover the revenue they would’ve otherwise lost. That’s where a solution like Blockthrough comes in.
There are a number of ad block revenue recovery solutions, but there are a few things that make Blockthrough unique: It’s easy to install and maintain, uses your own demand partners, delivers consistent monetization, and boasts a roughly 99% uptime.
Other solutions in the market have struggled with general unreliability and downtime due to attempting to circumvent ad blockers -- and very few were able to handle the widespread transition to header bidding. But we’re built on Prebid, the ad industry’s most transparent header bidding protocol, which means our platform allows publishers to leverage the benefits of header bidding with their existing partners, while serving users lightweight and acceptable advertising that doesn’t degrade the browsing experience.
How did you come up with this idea?
My background is in software development and publishing, and as an ad block user myself, I was appalled by how terrible the user experience had become on some of my favorite sites. At the same time, I wanted to figure out how to help publishers earn revenue, and thus Blockthrough was born.
Blockthrough represents the growth and development of advertising technology -- innovative, reliable and built on an transparent, open protocol like Prebid -- and not at the expense of the users.
We take seriously our mission of working tirelessly to create the balance between publisher content monetization and end user experience. It is for this reason we acquired PageFair to further the industry standard ad blocking research and leverage PageFair’s unique IP to provide publishers with tools to get back in control of online media.
How have you or do you plan to help media companies increase revenue or cut costs?
Publishers who work with us see an immediate boost to revenue, as they are recouping dollars that they would have never earned because of ad blocking. Just last quarter alone, we helped publishers across verticals like news, entertainment and sports recover over $3 million in ad revenue.
What do you think are the most important trends affecting the media business today?
Monetization at the expense of the user experience. It’s tough sledding right now for for media companies today, and the financial toll has forced many publishers to accept too many and poor quality ads to monetize. This poor user experience along with platform data abuse from firms like Facebook could push ad block installation forward.
The second is data intelligence. As the everyday user is now becoming more data and privacy-savvy, it’s not a stretch to expect that they’ll want to hold media companies and advertisers accountable for taking better care of their data. In turn, we can expect publishers to become more focused on how their user data is being taken care of (or not) by their technology and activation partners.
We also see media companies moving to diversify their revenue stream portfolios through subscriptions, micro-transactions, e-commerce, and more, and I think developing a solution that helps them manage and optimize those disparate revenue streams represents a solid business opportunity for the right company.
What’s next? Where do you see opportunities for growth?
Helping publishers recover revenue lost to ad blocking is something we do really well today. It’s a tough market for media companies, so any other services we can offer to help publishers thrive again is key. As Publishers continue to move beyond display ads as their primary monetization, we want to help guide them toward revenue growth across a variety of formats, including mobile and video -- while keeping an acceptable user experience in mind.
Late last year, we acquired PageFair, one of the industry’s most respected and looked to resources for information on ad blocking, and we look forward to sharing more research and intelligence based on this expertise. Further, with the PageFair acquisition we acquired some very unique intellectual property that we will consider rolling into future products that help publishers get back in control of monetization.