Blocking Ad Blockers – Unblockable Ads

Can web ads be “unblockable”?

Lots of web users are running Adblock Pro and a variety of other tools that do a very effective job of blocking ads on websites. Most of these tools simply block access to the third party urls that serve up the majority of the ads on the web. Products like Google Adsense are rendered useless with these tools.

I never gave it much thought until I read an article about a popular gaming news website that did a test and found out that a huge chunk of their users (about half if I recall) were running these adblockers. Since these sites make their income from ad clicks, these blockers are effectively “stealing” revenue from the site.

Of course the percentage of users blocking ads will vary by website because of the difference in demographics of the visitors. The rule of thumb is: the nerdier the audience, the more likely they’ll be nerdy enough to know about and run ad blockers. For a gaming news site, this results in huge numbers. I’ve proven this by running tests on two sites that are completedly different audiences, one being a nerdy audience and the other not at all… and sure enough, the nerdy one is nearly 25% blocked. The other, under 1%.

I’ve derived these stats by running a service called, which measures the ad blocking and gives you the option to pop up a “please don’t block us!” appeal to the visitor. This can be partially effective, but sites have to be careful to not p-off their visitors in the process.

So this got me thinkin- why not employ a method of showing unblockable ads? Shouldn’t be too difficult: Just route the ad requests through a proxy on your same server, so that the ads are then served from your same url and commonly known ad serving urls cannot be blocked (or not as easily). Throw in some obfuscation in the html to prevent blockers from learning which parts of the html contain ads.

This might be a viable option for larger sites that can both justify the additional expense while also proving trustworthy to the ad providers, but most common sites won’t get Google to approve running Adsense in this fashion. So a hybrid approach seems viable here: The page detects adsense or other ads being blocked, and instead loads same-site sourced “second tier” ads to be loaded in their place. This lets the site maintain the high payouts for google ads, but can still get at least some second tier ones to show for those running blockers.

Sounds like a great business plan: and Unblockable Ads service.