The ad block wall: How anti-ad block popups are anti-UX and anti-growth



August 17, 2023

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To ad block wall or not to ad block wall? Though it doesn’t have the same ring as Hamlet’s original soliloquy, it’s the million-dollar (in some cases, quite literally) question facing publishers today. As ad block users increase, publishers scramble for methods to recover lost revenue and maintain business continuity. Adblock walls - also known as anti-ad block popups - is one such method employed by 17% of major US publishers. But do these walls actually work? What do they truly accomplish? In this blog post, we delve into the efficacy of ad block walls and examine its implications for publishers.

Adblock walls of websites

Do ad blockers block ad block walls?

To measure the impacts of ad block walls, we first need to examine whether their anti-ad block popups are blocked by ad blockers. The answer is: occasionally no, but mainly yes. Back in 2018, a representative from Eyeo (Adblock Plus) told Vice that, while it would be “technically … very easy to bypass the ad blocking walls”, Adblock Plus allows their presence because “websites need advertising to fund their team and development.” Similarly, Adblock (a different ad blocker from Adblock Plus) allows ad block walls, echoing Adblock Plus’ justification that blocking them could infringe on publishers’ rights. However, Adblock Plus and Adblock’s policies are outliers. Other prominent ad blockers, including AdGuard, Brave Browser, and uBlock Origin all block ad block walls; moreover, countless browser extensions dedicated to blocking ad block walls are readily available for users. As a result, our research shows that an ad block wall’s anti-add block popups work properly for only 30-50% of ad block users, depending on the website’s characteristics (ie. mobile/desktop ratio).

How do users react to ad block walls?

Surveys show that the remaining 30-50% of ad block users forced to interact with ad block walls are deeply unsatisfied. When a soft ad block wall is displayed to users, only 16% turn off their ad blockers. A staggering 68% decline; 12% leave the website; and 4% are aggrieved to the point of searching for a stronger ad blocker. The recovery rate is undoubtedly better for hard ad block walls, at 62%. However, the percentage of users exiting the site more than doubles to 26%, and the percentage of users searching for stronger ad blockers triples to 12%. The increase in users searching for stronger ad blockers causes long-term losses for publishers, considering new blockers could block not only ad block walls but other recovery methods. Most publishers, unwilling to sacrifice UX and user retention, decide against using ad block walls as a recovery strategy.

How do you usually react to soft adblock walls (dismissable)?

  • Reject the request: 68%
  • Comply with the request: 16%
  • Exit the site: 12%
  • Look for a more powerful adblocker: 4%

How do you usually react to hard adblock walls (non-dismissable)?

  • Comply with the request: 62%
  • Exit the site: 26%
  • Look for a more powerful adblocker: 12%

How much revenue is recovered via ad block walls?

In the case of hard ad block walls, potentially recovering 62% of lost ad-blocked revenue doesn’t look too bad. But keep in mind that instead of 62% of all ad blocker users, it’s 62% of the 50% (at best) of users remaining after ad blockers blocked anti-ad block popups. In the all-around best-case scenario of 100,000 ad blocker web visitors, only 50,000 are actually stopped by the ad block wall, and only 31,000 remain as ad impressions. We can extrapolate, then, that the best possible short-term yields for ad block walls are only about 30%. This is, of course, not taking into account the significant long-term costs of user turnover and additional ad blocker installations that come with an ad block wall’s intrusive UX.

Though 30% is far from ideal, it’s possible that this rate is still higher than other methods. Admiral, an ad block wall solution, claims to generate 7.3 times more recovered revenue than Acceptable Ads, AdBlock Plus’ comply-to-display ad filter program. (For more on Acceptable Ads, check out our blog post.) But, like the 30% recovery rate, the increase in revenue is fleeting. While the initial revenue recovered through ad block walls increases, it gradually decreases over time as users who initially complied later end up adding filters to block ads.

Strategies for sustainable growth

We’ve examined how ad block walls can recover revenue for publishers prioritizing immediate, short-term recovery. But what about strategies around sustainable growth and recovery?


For publishers wanting long-term results, Ad-Shield provides a next-generation ad block recovery solution that consistently recovers 90% of ad-blocked impressions. That’s over three times the initial best-case-scenario recovery rate for ad block walls. We understand the power and consequences of UX, so our technology recovers your ads without bothering your users in any way. To learn more, reach out to our team of experts now - we’re just a click away.

Joon Yu
Founder & CEO