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May 14, 2018

With Google Chrome Ad Blocking Changes, Affiliate Marketers Had A Tough First Quarter – Here’s Why They’ll Now Be Pushed To Innovate

Good advertisers know to never get too comfortable. But when Google Chrome announced game-changing adjustments to its platform in Q1 2018, a shock was felt across the industry nonetheless. The tremor occured when Chrome pushed out its built-in ad blocker – designed in partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, the new tool is meant to reduce anything that negatively impacts the user experience. 

The change has ultimately swept the carpet from under advertisers’ feet, and driven professionals across a range of models to rethink their game plans completely. And affiliate marketers are no exception; the new Chrome ad blocking changes inherently has a deep effect on the industry. The ad blocker bars noncompliant ads from showing up on the browser, including flashing banner ads, full-page ads, or ones that play sound automatically. 

So not only does it block consumers from seeing banner ads in the first place – which affiliate marketers leverage on their websites to gain revenue – but  ad blockers also intrinsically “cut” website cookies that publishers rely on to track sales. This means that even if an ad wasn’t blocked, publishers would still lose out any commission they would have received from it.  Because again, there’d be no way to trace the consumer’s action – be it a click or a sale – back to the affiliate marketer. 

Now, affiliate marketing will be driven to innovate 

With shifting consumer behaviors and new technologies constantly disrupting the space, affiliate marketing always seems to be on the cuff of change. To conquer any roadblocks that result, the industry has gotten used to being pretty agile over the years – and with agility, comes innovation. There’s no doubt that this most recent ad blocking ‘hiccup’ will help to push the industry forward, and push affiliate marketing players to bring their tactics to the next level. 

So while Google Chrome’s ad blocker seems inherently negative, it really depends on how you spin it. Here’s how we see it: the introduction has actually regulated ad blocking standards to make them more consistent across the board. 

Whereas third party ad blockers were once more difficult to track and predict, the widespread use of the Chrome ad blocker (Chrome users load about 771 billion pages per month) makes it easier for affiliate marketers to stay one step ahead of the game, and find ways to overcome these ad blocking restrictions. 

For example, some affiliate networks have now been driven to develop more innovative tools to combat ad blockers, and help publishers keep control of their revenue supplies. At our own network Admitad we’ve developed an internal tool called Cookie Checker, which can notify users to turn off the ad blocker in Chrome. And as Google Chrome’s ad-blocker gains traction, we expect other affiliate networks to follow suit. There’s also the tool Moneylink which helps publishers monetize projects by using a small Java script to turn regular links, into affiliate links. 

The ad blocking changes will also push publishers themselves to think outside of the box, and come up with new models to earn revenue and acquire users. For example, in recent months we’ve seen publishers use Telegram channels – in which they post affiliate links or promo codes – to monetize messenger, in some cases earning up to $15,000 USD a month. We’ve seen publishers using more SMM channels, and some are even turning to offline models to leverage platforms like Groupon and avoid any ad blocking woes. 

As the old saying goes: if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. That’s how we’re feeling in the affiliate marketing industry right now. So while it’s difficult to predict what will happen in the long run, it’s on publishers to ensure they’re not only profitable in the present, but also have a ‘plan B’ to ensure they don’t lose out when ad blocking changes inevitably happen again.


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Igor Gubin is the Head of Business Development for the International Publisher’s Department at Admitad, a global affiliate marketing network.

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