Some of you are probably reading this post with ad blocker right now — and to be honest, I don’t blame you. Sure, there’s the occasional amusing or genuinely useful ad, but not terribly often, so why not install a plugin and avoid the whole mess? Of course, those ads make money, so if ad blockers become widespread enough, it could be a real problem for online publishers (who have enough problems already).
Israeli startup ClarityRay says it’s not something looming in the misty future — it’s happening now, and it’s only going to get worse.
In a recent study (download PDF), the company claims to have looked at “over 100 million impressions across several top-tier publishers in the US and Europe” finding that 9.26 percent of all impressions were blocked. The likelihood that someone is using an ad blocker varies significantly by browser — Firefox users are the most likely to use a blocker, followed by Safari (the desktop version) and then Chrome. The report goes on:
The combined market share of Chrome and Firefox is only increasing. Moreover, the great popularity of ad-blockers points to a strong public need; as awareness increases, a free, widely available solution that is one-click away on every platform is bound to increase its consumer adoption. It is, therefore, our estimate that ad-blocking will double within 20 months.
The company’s logic, at least as presented here, didn’t quite convince me that ad blocking will double, but I’m not debating the larger points. Naturally, ClarityRay is offering a solution.
“We believe ad-blocking today is a lot like how pirate MP3s were before iTunes: they point to a valid consumer need, but do so in an unsustainable manner business wise,” says co-founder and CEO Ido Yablonka.
In other words, Yablonka wants to provide an alternative that addresses the complaints of the “ad intolerant” while allowing publishers to make money. To that end, the company offers two complementary products — one that bypasses ad blockers, and another that allows publishers to offer subscriptions for an ad-free version of the site. So if you’ve installed an ad blocker and you visit a ClarityRay customer, you’ll still see a single ad, Yablonka says. Don’t want to see it? Then pay.
At the same time, Yablonka acknowledges that each publisher has its own audience and its own needs, and he says ClarityRay customizes the program for customer based on crowd analysis.
Even though the company hasn’t received much coverage from the press, Yablonka says it’s already live with several large publishers, totaling 2 million unique monthly visitors. (Yablonka says he can’t disclose any customer names publicly, but he did point me to a couple of sites where I could see the technology live and working.) ClarityRay has also raised $500,000 in funding from Saar Wilf who sold his company Fraud Sciences to eBay for $169 million, and is now serving as the company’s chairman.