Should You Block Website Access to Visitors Using an Ad Blocker?

Website Wall Blocking Visitors with Ad Blocker

Imagine the internet if all websites were forbidden to make any money.

There wouldn’t be an internet.

Fortunately making money from websites is allowed.  It’s the money that fuels the internet which is changing the world.

Of course it’s not 100% about making money.  It’s fun being creative, helpful, entertaining, educational, information – whatever your site is.  To be able to make a few bucks while serving a higher purpose can’t be beat. It gets me out of bed before my alarm clock every morning.

Yet, by last count, 200 million people worldwide hate internet ads so much that they take the time to install an ad blocker.

I have to be pretty motivated to install an app or extension.  I gotta really want it.

People must really hate ads.

BUT, I think they’ll hate being cut off from the internet more.

That’s right, the battle lines are drawn between publishers and ad blockers.

Publishers vs. Ad Blockers

You know the issue is hitting critical mass when a theme developer rolls out a theme that has an option to block visitors with an ad blocker.

MyThemeShop rolled out Ad-Sense theme with this built in.  Pretty cool.

BUT, should you do the equivalent of pushing the red button with your website?  Should you block visitors with an ad blocker?

First off, I currently don’t block anyone.

Secondly, I think I should.

I’m going to look into it.  I’d use MyThemeShop’s new theme but I’m sure I can find a simpler way to do it than changing themes.  I like MyThemeShop; I don’t like changing themes.

I think I’m going to go the route of blocking parts of content instead of an all-out block and restrict it to content only monetized with ads.

Thirdly, I think every website on the planet that monetizes primarily with ads should block or partially block visitors with ad blockers.


Because that will be the end of ad blockers.

Short term pain for long term gain for all website publishers.

Publishers should rally together and render the internet largely inaccessible to anyone with an ad blocker.

Who shouldn’t block visitors with ad blockers?

Any website that doesn’t mostly depend on ads for revenue.

If you make money selling stuff or affiliate promotions or love collecting emails, don’t block anyone. That’s not smart.  I’m not blocking anyone on any non-display ad sites (like this one).

Do publishers have a shot winning the war?

Yes, they do.

Fortunately many of the biggest websites on the Web generate most revenue with ads.

While I’m not a big fan of oligopolies, in this case, the oligopolies just might save the day.  One corporation could make a difference.  Conde Nast for instance, which owns many monster sites, could persuade many people to turn off their ad blocker.

Viperchill has an awesome blog post that shows how 16 corporations control much of the internet traffic.  Check it out:



If every website on that list that monetizes with ads (which is most of them), blocked visitors with ad blockers, that would pretty much end the use of ad blockers.

Yeah, I know it’s not cool so few companies control so much traffic.  The fact is all industries ultimately result in oligopolies and have since the beginning of capitalism.  Whether you like or hate oligopolies, you have to admit if they unite and block the ad blockers, it’s good for us little publishers.

Obviously me and my relatively small sites won’t end ad blockers.  BUT, 500 of the world’s biggest sites along with a smattering of smaller publishers can kill the ad blocker.

At first, users will disable their ad blocker on a site-by-site basis.

As they encounter more and more walls to sites, eventually they’ll just keep the ad blocker turned off.  I know I would.  I don’t use an ad blocker, but I know for a certainty getting blocked to my favorite sites would get me to permanently disable an ad blocker.

Unless the unthinkable occurs

It might totally backfire on us little publishers.  The big guns might kowtow to the ad blockers and seek whitelisting.  That would be so pathetic by the supposed “mighty corporations” don’t you think?

If they play the whitelisting game, they’re handing their control to an app of all things.

Or worse, Ad Block Plus (the big blocker), may give these corporations a pass.  That’s a monster kick to the teeth for us little publishers.

I don’t think the oligopolies are handing their control to an app by following white listing protocol.  

Have you read the restrictions for getting whitelisted?  I have.  You can read them here.

You might as well not have ads on your site.  You can’t put ads anywhere that’ll get clicked.  And then there’s a cap in number of ads. Just as AdSense lifted the cap, ad blocker whitelist rules enforces a cap.  I don’t care about the white listing because playing that game is literally a pauper’s game.

It’s ironic, isn’t it.

Ad blockers came about so people could avoid disruptive ads only to end up getting punched in the nose with the ultimate pop up “You have an ad blocker – no access for you” notice.

How do you block visitors who have an ad blocker?

Switch to the Ad-Sense theme.  Unless you’re launching a new site, that’s a lot of work.

Use a free plugin such as Block AdBlock or take a softer approach with Ad Blocking Detector.  Ad Blocking Detector makes it possible to display alternative content such as an email sign up form or friendly message. It doesn’t block access.

Block AdBlock does block access.  If you want to wage war, use Block AdBlock.

I’ll wrap up with yet another “What do you think Google will do?” question.

Do you think Google will apply the pop up penalty in 2017 to websites that block access to visitors with an ad blocker?

It’s an interesting question because ad blockers affect Google.  My bet is the old “you ain’t gettin’ into the site until you turn off your ad blocker” pop up gets a pass.

At least I hope so.

8 thoughts on “Should You Block Website Access to Visitors Using an Ad Blocker?”

  1. Thought-provoking post. I started using AdBlocker because Youtube videos were beginning to take the mick. Every video had a 30 second commercial even if the clip itself was only 30 seconds long. Annoying. I don’t have a problem with small banner ads at the bottom, as I can click on the x to get rid. Maybe I’ll see if I can chuck a bone to publishers by blocking only ads in video content somehow.

    I’m pretty blind to ads to be fair, so I never worried about using an AdBlocker because I wasn’t going to be clicking anyway. LOL. I’ve been on the internet since 1994 and haven’t clicked on one yet. I think the sites which detect and offer a warning to switch off the AdBlocker can be circumvented by opening that page again in a private window – not sure if that works with the new theme you mentioned. (I think I used that solution on Forbes.)

    As for Google’s treatment of pop-ups, I think they already have a way of dealing with them. Unless I’ve been misinformed, G are watching bounce rates. I’m pretty guaranteed (95-99% chance) to hit the back button on any site that offers me a pop-up on entry. The only ones I tolerate are sites from trusted sources, where I’m landing on their site via email newsletter links, etc.

    I think the Google Rankbrain stuff is meant to learn about what searchers like, by measuring things like bounce rate. So if a site is too pushy, and too many people bounce back to G too often, I’m sure the target site will get pushed down the SERPs. I think this is a good method as it’s decided by the visitors themselves based on satisfaction with the site – got to be better than a basic algorithm. Maybe what they have in mind for 2017 is to give more weight to Rankbrain and bounce rate.

    1. Hey Neil,

      Great comment. Thank you.

      I think Google’s pop up update that’s rolling out in 2017 will help the industry overall, but I think AdBlock Plus has to ease up on their whitelisting conditions as well. No ads in content is way over the line and I’ll never agree to that.

      Maybe there will be workarounds like opening sites in another window, but 99.9999% of users won’t bother with that. You’re probably tech savvy so you’ll do it, but I think it’s a big deal just to get people to install AdBlock Plus.

      I’ve clicked many ads as a surfer. I find them helpful. For instance, I like travel ads that offer discounts after I’ve indicated an interest in a trip. That’s retargeting which I’m totally cool with. Maybe I’m in the minority here. Of course I don’t care for so many ads that it impedes navigation.

      I do have interstitial on my niche sites now, but if that’s a Google popup update issue, I’ll remove it. I don’t mind.

      I think/hope the publishers will do something here to combat the issue. I think Google is going to help it big time with updates such as the pop up update.

      We’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

      Fortunately I publish sites with non-ad revenue in case this whole thing turns catastrophic for ad revenue.

  2. You made some good points in the article, but instead of flat out blocking (or even semi blocking) why not put some better adverts? Which are non intrusive.

    The rules set by adblock (for getting white listed) are there for a reason, most of us (readers) are fed up with pop up adverts (like the one I got when I opened this page).

    So if any site shows a “please disable your adblock to view the content”, I (and I’m not alone with this) stop visiting that site entirely and I won’t disable the adblock unless I reallllyyyyy have to read that article (or use the site)
    If the day comes when all of the sites start showing the “please disable your adblock” sign, I’m pretty sure that within a week someone will find a loophole in that.

    Concluding, people don’t use adblock because they hate publishers; they use it because some (not all) adverts are bad. They play random music/ video, sometimes give you a virus, almost always tracks you around the net, and so on. So as a publisher you should try to put some non intrusive adverts on your page (now I don’t know if you can select which advert displays on your page, but this would be my suggestion to you)

    1. Hey dark lord,

      I would have no problem turning off pop up ads if that appeased ad blockers, but getting whitelisted is more strenuous than that. You can’t put ads in content either, which is where the money is.

      I’m not sure what you mean by non-intrusive ads. If they don’t make money, they’re a waste. I just put ads on provided by the main ad networks… I leave the actually ad selection to them. I have no plans to start hand-selecting ads. That would take up all my time totally defeating the benefit of monetizing with ads which is it allows me to focus on publishing content.

      I agree some sites are annoying with how many ads they have, but I think AdBlock Plus goes too far to get whitelisted.

      It may turn into a cat and mouse game between software blocking ads/blocking users etc. I’m not sure.

      I’ve read that biggest publishers are trying to increase revenue from non-ad sources but it’s not going so well. It won’t replace display ads so if many websites can’t monetize at all, something drastic will happen.

  3. Adblocker is seriously a frustrating thing for any publisher looking to make money on internet. I was recently approached by a person who works for a company that deals in bypassing the ad block. Their solution has been recently implemented by leading magazine site Forbes. I am yet to see a demo of how it works. They claim that their solution could save publishers 20% in revenue on a daily basis.

    Have you tried implementing any such solution on any of your niche sites.

    1. Hey Rinkesh,

      I’ve not implemented any ad network that by-passes ad blockers. My concern is that the Ad blockers will figure it out and then we enter the cat and mouse game of software capability. BUT, maybe I will consider it. It would be interesting to see how much revenue I am missing out on… could be a little or a lot.

  4. You have to also consider your site’s users. If you have a tech or IM site, your users will most likely have an ad blocker installed. In contrast, if your site is about farm equipment or blue collar-type jobs, ad blockers are probably a non-issue for the most part. It’s something you need to consider during niche selection if you plan on displaying ads.

    Personally, if I visit a site that mentions to me that I have an ad-blocker installed and tells me (even in the nicest way) that I should disable it, I’ll leave and never come back.

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