Is there a way to force my users to not use AdBlock?

If not, what can I do to discourage its use?

  • 4
    Your question title and your actual question do not seem to be the same question. One is about how to deal with the loss, the other is about how to avoid the loss. Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 4:01
  • The future called, we tend to use adblock to prevent malware installs now. Choose an ad network that doesn't consistently send a malvertisement through every other week. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 2:13
  • The future called again. Malware ads are being served out on trusted networks like Yahoo Ad Network. We can no longer trust any ads and a lot of us are removing Flash as well. Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 21:35

5 Answers 5


"force" is an awfully strong word... How about

  1. creating a website your users love enough so that at least some of them won't adblock you?

  2. choosing ads that aren't so irritating your users feel compelled to adblock them?

Responsibility for your site starts at home..

  • -1 - Wholeheartedly agree. Doesn't answer the op's question though. Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 3:59
  • @Farseeker: I disagree. This answers the OP's second question, "What can I do to discourage its use?"
    – mmyers
    Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 4:11
  • 1
    Point taken. The question really has three questions in it, which are only loosely related to eachother (Can I get around it, can I stop my users from using it, how do I deal with the loss of it). I see that on the 2nd read. Too bad I can't undo my vote. Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 4:16
  • Great answer, but it begs for expounding. It also fails to answer the question even with 'That seems questionable'.
    – Tim Post
    Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 17:50
  • Totally agree with Jeff. This is why I don't block ads on Stack Overflow. Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 11:00

Most of my sites cater to very technical people who are very sensitive when it comes to how I use pixels on their screen. Additionally, many of my sites discuss the world of free and open source software. That's a tough crowd, here's some advice:

Reward the behavior that you want

On most of my sites, simply leaving 3 comments that add something to the conversation will result in reduced advertising. This includes banners and text links. Give people some productive means to see less ads. Implementing OpenID is helpful there, you want to be less 'greedy' when it comes to user registration.

My text link ads are not at all generated by JS. They work no matter what. Additionally, I've gotten rather clever with using background images in containers with ordinary text links for someone who finds the ad interesting to 'follow through'. With or without blockers, you're going to see some ads.

The trick here is to make your content interesting and useful enough for people to tolerate them, while leaving them some means to make (most of) the ads go away. From my stats and analytics, I found that most people who actually click on them tend to come from Google searching for a particular question. They generally exit the site by clicking an ad.

In most cases, your regular users aren't the ones you want to target. I've got 11k+ rep on SO, I may click on an ad every few months just to see how an interesting product crafted their user interface. However, I don't block the ads, I don't find them annoying enough to go through the trouble of blocking them. Besides, they also use their ad space for great causes, which I'll discuss later.

Have more text than ads

If I see a page that has more advertisements on it than text, I usually just close it straight away. I have some sympathy, I also serve ads, but too much is too much. Additionally, I would put down a news paper that had more ads than text, this is not at all 'web' specific.

Place the ads strategically

Put ads in places where you either:

  • Are losing someone's attention
  • Have someone's undivided attention

The second half of the page works well. I very rarely see clicks from ads placed on the top half of the page. YMMV, as I said, I am dealing with a very tough crowd :)

Run ads that your audience will actually be interested in seeing

My particular audience has no interest in getting a lower mortgage rate, creating a 'cartoon you' or proprietary software. However, they love gizmos, books and e-bay auctions where they can buy a piece of computer history. You have to work to understand your users and show them what they want to see.

Additionally, run some ads that do some good. For instance, Stack Overflow does a great service to the open source community by advertising projects that might need some more developers and users. That's one of the biggest reasons why I don't bother blocking ads on SO.

Don't show ads to people that won't convert

Its a waste of bandwidth to show an ad for some company that only ships inside the continental US to a visitor in Iceland, even on Fridays (you did do something to understand your visitor's browsing habits, yes?). This is one of the reasons why I avoid the big ad networks and retain complete control over what I display. I don't just happily take the money and put the ad into circulation, I research the advertiser and make sure they would be a good fit with my users. If you annoy your visitors, you get no traffic. If you get no traffic, you serve no ads.

This is more than just geo-targeting, its strategy.

Engage your users

Give people a place to rant, make it easy for them to tell you what they love and what they don't like so much. When you hear from them, take action.

Finally, like others have said, build something useful and explain that the only thing that pays the bills is advertisements. If you take the time to get to know your visitors, you'll find something that works.

I would quickly close any page that tries to force me to do anything.

You also need to consider the nature of the site .. is it self promoting? If so, its (usually) not a good place for ads.

  • 1
    +1 Really good advice there. If more websites were built like this then adblock wouldn't be so popular. Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 16:40

OK this is not really an answer, but if your users are using AdBlock a lot, maybe your ads are too obnoxious. Why not try toning down the "You have won! you are the 1000000 visitor!" or "Play now my lord!" stuff and see if that helps.

I guess there is a way to detect adblock, either server-side through detecting what files have been downloaded, or client side through JavaScript jiggery-pokery, but isn't there a danger that instead of forcing people to use AdBlock, you'll just make them go elsewhere?

  • I don't know whether to +1 this for "good advice" or -1 this for not answering the question <grin>. Commented Jul 10, 2010 at 22:43
  • @Robert: As noted above, the question in the post is actually different from the question in the title. This is more about the question in the post than the title.
    – delete
    Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 4:23
  • @Kinopiko: Ah yes, you are correct, sir. Okay then, I vote "good advice!" Commented Jul 11, 2010 at 15:06
  • 1
    I don't really think users install adblock because of a specific site - they install it to remove ads in general. Once installed though, it's highly unlikely that they're going to unblock your site specifically. So it's less about "your users" than it is about users in general.
    – womp
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 21:40
  • @womp: I installed Adblock because of about.com's flashing "You are the 1,000,000th visitor", and I more or less stopped using it when I wasn't visiting "about.com" so much any more.
    – delete
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 0:16

You could explain to your users that the ad revenues you receive are necessary to run the website due to its costs. Using adblock is hurting them since the service will disappear or will have less quality if the ad revenue cannot be achieved.

  • I question this approach, since any user willing to unblock your ads is probably a regular user of your site, and not likely to click them anyway. It also tends to come across as desperate.
    – womp
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 21:42

You could have two javascript files, one after the other.


The second has ad in its URI, so their blacklist blocks it. Instead of hiding the content outright, you might want to just show the nag message and subscription links.

The hiding is done via javascript as some users have javascript disabled, there's not much you can do about them.

I don't recommend doing this, and it probably won't help you if you get paid per-click, as people who use ad-blockers probably won't click on ads in the first-place, so instead you'll just annoy them.

I might be biased, though, as I use an ad-blocker.

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