You Ask, I Answer: Making Sites More Trustworthy?

Phil asks, “My site’s functionality is being limited by ad blockers. How do I make my site more trustworthy?”

Like email marketing, we will increasingly have to ask users who are using sophisticated ad blocking tools to whitelist our sites. We’ll also need to take at least one other step in the near future as marketers to ensure effective measurement. Watch the video for full details.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Phil asks, my sites functionality is being limited by ad blockers, how do I make my site more trustworthy? So Phil’s question is an important one, for a few reasons. Number one, ad blockers and ad blocking technology are getting more and more aggressive as the arms race between advertisers and ad blockers continues to escalate. What that means, of course, is that ad blockers block certain types of ads advertisers, particularly those who are less scrupulous, try to find ways to defeat the ad blockers, and the ad blockers adapt, and so on and so forth. It is a very much an arms race of whose technology is better. We see this especially with companies like Facebook, for example, Facebook has been at war with ad blockers for quite some time, of course, logically, Facebook books advertising model, the revenue model is based on advertising at least until for some time to come. And so as a result, there’s a lot of collateral damage because ad blockers then start blocking all kinds of things analytics scripts, tag management stuff and and functionality that we might want to use on our websites but might not work correctly anymore. So to Phil’s question. In the near future, as marketers, we’re going to have to start adapting to this new reality. And the specifics of that mean that we will need to be asking like email marketers, hey, please add my site to the whitelist on your ad blocking software. So for example, in the ad blocking software, go story, there’s a button that says trust this site, and you can tell somebody, you can ask a a visitor, please trust my site in your ad blocking software. The same is true for like adblock, or you block origin or any of these tools, you can say to us, please trust my site, please deactivate your ad blocker. In order to experience maximum functionality on the site, that you’re going to get a small success rate, you’ll probably get your your highest success rate from people who have done things like opt in to your email list or to your slack community or to any owned property where you have the ability to influence them, and ask that permission of them, you’re probably not going to succeed as well with things like pop up on your website if they even work. Because again, a lot of things like pop ups are blocked functions. The other thing to do is make sure that you are implementing all of the major best practices for sites to run on mobile devices using what’s called the accelerated mobile pages, or amp. The reason for this is that if it works, on mobile, if it works in app, it will work, regardless of whether an ad blocker is running or not, because app provides a very limited subset of what is permitted tracking technology. When you look at a page that has, you know, straight HTML five, very simple forms, clear graphics, not very much JavaScript, not very much interactivity, you’ve got a site there that is going to be relatively immune to ad blockers, because there’s nothing to block other than, you know, straight HTML content. So be thinking about how can you simplify your site, and then everything that you would need for a trustworthy site. So of course, good site architecture, disability compliance, all those things that disability compliance, in particular, it’s called section five away in the United States. Allow is your site to run well, for a text only browsers or assisted browsers guess what those technologies also are relatively immune to ad blockers, because they’re super, super simple. They strip a site down to the bare basics, so that it works in those browsers. So making your site compliant, there are a number of like section 508 wizards that you can use to evaluate your site as to how good it is at that.

But there’s a bigger issue here. There’s there’s a much, much bigger issue here. And that much bigger issue is that so many of the analytics tools, the functionality on our website, the interactivity is so many of these different tools are vulnerable to being blocked. And that creates a real problem for marketers who want to be accurate with their data as well as offer, you know, enhanced functionality, which is what Phil’s question is. If you look, for example, at your infrastructure analytics, in fact, let me bring up an example here. This is this is the the tracking data from Cloud flare. So Cloud flow is a caching service that makes the websites that we operate more more resistant to attacks. But a side benefit is that bypassing all of our traffic through their infrastructure, we can get a sense of how much traffic there is. So if you look here, on cloud fleurs analytics we see is it says I had a minimum daily visitor log about 2700 a day, but a maximum of 6000 a day. If I look at the most recent day, I had about 3790 visitors to my website. That’s cool, right? Now, let’s look at Google Analytics at the same time period, Google Analytics is saying 400 463 475 users a day. That’s a big difference. That’s like, five x difference, right? six x difference in the number of visitors that Google Analytics thinks I had, versus what cloud flare thinks I had, because of a caching technology, ad blocking scripts, all sorts of things that are interfering with Google Analytics ability to track effectively This is one of the reasons why tag management software is important and why implementing analytics with its the no script feature is super important. Because otherwise, you are losing the ability to measure traffic. And it’s a pretty serious problem. So if I am getting inaccurate reporting on my analytics, I have a real data quality problem. Right. And your site probably does, too. So one of the things we’re gonna have to do as marketers probably in the very near future, work with our hosting providers to to implement server based logging again, which is something that we used to use in in website marketing, back in the early 2000s. Some of y’all remember the venerable AWS stats plugin way back in the day, it looked at server logs, and what was hitting the server. The only reliable way we can judge how much traffic we’re getting this to measure on the device itself, right, because no blocking no tracking software can block the fact that you are consuming resources on a server. So start looking around at options if you’re a marketer, who is who is charged with the analytics. So your websites start looking at backup options tools like Google Analytics that can look at the server data itself. In addition to Google Analytics, we’re not getting rid of Google Analytics because we’re going to need its its information. But there’s a real problem. When it comes to scripts and tracking codes being blocked by ad blocking technology as this war between advertiser and ad blocker continues to ramp up. And make sure that you you’ve got great analytics on things that are tangible actions people can take like subscribing to a newsletter so that you can still see an impact down funnel even if your web analytics quality degrades over time due to ad blocking. Great question, Phil. important question. Lots to unpack here. lots to do, and you need to do it soon. Because if you don’t, you’re going to be flying blind after a while. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel on the newsletter. I’ll talk to you soon.

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