User experience on partner sites – should ad networks care?

Many players in the advertising ecosystem do not necessarily associate ad networks with user-centric entities and the sentiment is understandable. As an average network typically deals with hundreds or even thousands of publishers, the main focus is usually on optimizing revenue, not on user experience. 

But we all know that the user is and will remain the lynchpin of the entire system. So is there a way for ad networks to also take part in improving the user experience?

When we talk about user experience, interestingly, it’s never just about the user. User experience encompasses the user’s needs, values, understanding and interaction with a system or service. Often, the ideas, brands or even advertising surrounding the user can contribute to that experience –– be it positively or negatively. This is why many users today have decided to be proactive by blocking or filtering ads. 

The user experience matters

Opportunity to increase revenue

GWI stats show that 37.8% of users often use an ad blocker, with the majority quoting, “There are too many ads” and “ads get in the way” as the main reasons for doing so. In addition, 29.2% of users feel negatively towards ads that interrupt their online viewing experience. This can be true for standard users who don’t use an ad blocker or any ad-filtering software to limit or block online advertisements from their browsing experience.

So is there a way to make the internet experience more enjoyable for all users without harming the revenue of advertisers and publishers?

At present, there are 225 million ad-filtering, Acceptable Ads users around the world. These generally younger, educated and tech-savvy audiences mostly perceive online ads as annoying, intrusive or excessive, but understand that advertising keeps the internet open and free. According to a report published by Blockthrough earlier this year, ad-blocking users are twice as likely to accept nonintrusive ads instead of engaging with paywalls or ad block walls. 

With walled gardens (Facebook Audience Network, Google Display Network, etc.) thriving and many independent ad networks constantly popping up, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for each of them to stand out in the saturated market to attract new publishers. The battle for quality publishers can be exhausting, and increasing revenue by adding more ads to a page is not always a great solution. 

Gaining access to millions of ad-filtering audiences who are still willing to engage with advertising can serve as an advantage for ad networks. When onboarding a new publisher as a network, the incentive lies in showing that the network’s focus isn’t only on the money, but also on users and how they contribute towards revenue growth. Cutting down on the number of ads and widening the addressable audience is a win-win solution for every party involved.


Enhancing visibility

Focusing on the user experience of ad-filtering users can also create more visibility in the market, by covering a more extensive audience set while keeping the same level of profitability for the website. Many Supply-side platforms (SSPs) today try to offer specific products in order to appear more visible in the market––and Acceptable Ads and its users can provide an ad network with more value and competitive advantage. With Acceptable Ads, ad networks can help their publishers gain even more revenue by using what they already have. With existing inventory and demand, networks can create an experience that benefits both ad-filtering users and non-ad blocking users. 

A network experience

Acceptable Ads is already offering solutions to both direct publishers and ad networks, among which are global ad tech players such as CriteoOutbrain, and others. 

Some are adding Acceptable Ads as a separate product to their stack and others have decided to dive deeper and focus on building a platform that would cater specifically to ad-blocking users.

One of the companies, Unblockia, an ad network based in Spain, shared their experience with us: 

“Throughout the last months, we have been able to witness a wave of an increased awareness from the publishers regarding ad blockers and their interest to learn more of how ad-block users behave in the online world. Publishers have realized that it is possible to monetize the part of the revenue that was previously inaccessible, while still offering a positive experience to users.“ –– Tijana Vankovska, CEO at Unblockia

Considering that ad-filtering users are highly sensitive to disturbing advertisements, Unblockia ensures that all ads are high-quality, completely customized and abide by the Acceptable Ads Standard. 

“In that way, we believe that we can grant ad-filtering users a unique online experience while respecting their browsing habits and choices,” said Vankovska.

Facilitating a sustainable value exchange

Advertisers and publishers need to collectively focus on creating positive experiences. Respecting the user experience and preferred ad formats can lead to revenue uplift, increased engagement and an important boost in brand perception. This is the best way forward for online advertising, and it can start with an ad network looking further into the role that user experience plays in helping them succeed and how that contributes to a sustainable value exchange. 

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