Oriel launches ad blocking solution for small to medium publishers

Oriel

Anti-ad blocking startup Oriel has launched a WordPress plugin, which it claims is a one-stop-shop that can help small-to-medium size publishers cope with the impact of ad blocking.

The plug-in operates similarly to Google analytics but with Oriel's offering publishers do not need to write any code or install any scripts on their webpages. Instead, they need only install the plug-in on their WordPress account.

Publishers will then have access to analytics tools that give them insight on visitors to their sites that have installed an ad blocker, plus further means to re­engage them. This includes tools that allow publishers to limit access to their content if they detect that a website visitor is using an ad blocker.

It works by protecting a publisher's existing ad tags by encrypting the delivery of the advertising back to the end user in such a way that it's not possible for the ad blocker to detect it as commercial content.

The plug-in has been launched on WordPress, but can be installed on any content management system (CMS) with Oriel additionally claiming it is possible for an ad blocker to circumvent the technology if it is not installed within the CMS.

Aidan Joyce, chief executive of Oriel, told The Drum it was a "permanent fix solution", and not "a cat and mouse solution."

WordPress is the largest CMS and blogging platform globally, powering over 60 million websites around the world. While some larger publishers use the WordPress system, it is generally inhabited by small-to-medium publishers, who according to Oriel are the ones in need of the most help when it comes to ad blocking.

“They don’t necessarily have the technical abilities to put up a paywall on their website to defend themselves against ad blockers, whereas the big brands will cover that a lot better.” Joyce said.

It comes as more publishers are scrambling for solutions to protect their advertising revenue now that one in five smartphone users are now using ad blockers, according to research. Oriel claims from its own research that for small-to-medium publishers in Europe at least 15 per cent of the revenue is gone as a result of ad blocking.

To come to this conclusion, Oriel installed its analytics across 400 publishers worldwide to determine the number of page views and adverts blocked, then extrapolate this data to forecast revenue loss.

Analysis

The fact that Oriel is proposing that publishers serve website visitors with ads (regardless of whether or not they have installed an ad blocker) raises some questions. For instance, what is the value of serving an ad to someone that has indicated a lack of interest in any ads through installing an ad blocker?

Arguably, it also takes away a user’s ability to control their experience of the internet - a popular argument among those advocating ad blocking.

Oriel doesn’t see this as an issue, claiming that more than 60 per cent of ad blockers aren’t actually averse to advertising. What they are averse to is annoying intrusive advertising, according to Joyce.

It also claims a “very small percentage” of the core ad blockers don't want ads altogether, adding there are other reasons why people install such software, such as speed and privacy concerns. These are more of a priority, and Oriel’s offering addresses both, he adds.

"The wonderful thing that's come out of this whole ad blocking issue and debate is that the user has spoken. It's probably the biggest online protest in the world. Publishers are reacting and technology like this is also reacting, and making sure that we provide a better user experience.

"I think that if publishers display a reasonable ad-light experience, which is fast, non-invasive on privacy and which is secure, I think that is a very fair exchange." Joyce concluded.

The user does have the ultimate choice, Joyce added, by pressing "the big red X in the corner" of their web browser. However, to avoid this it is important Oriel puts measures in place so that publishers don't abuse the technology.

It's why Oriel’s platform has been designed to ensure that only acceptable advertising formats are allowed through, and blocks poor quality ads such as pop­ups, pop­unders, plus Flash adverts as well as volume enabled videos.

“They cannot be rendered through our system, because we don’t want to be a technology that peddles the same garbage advertising that created the ad blocking problem in the first place.” Joyce added.

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

All by Jessica