For speed of deployment on a custom build site we were looking at using an AdServer system for the delivery and management of in-house banners, videos and selective graphical elements. Yes, some were ads but our own ads, no 3rd party ones.

We didn't need any of the tracking and data that comes with an Adserver but the low cost of monthly fees against the time of building our own image management system made it ideal. Until...

Now with all the noise around Adblockers we realise our solution would render many of images unviewable as they would be seen as ads.

Does using Adservers that allow you to use your own custom URL get around this issue or are the Adblockers more intelligent than this?

  • 15
    So you want to make an ad, which doesn't get noticed by an AdBlocker? If so, join that line ;)
    – Martijn
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 11:18
  • 4
    It sounds like he want to serve non-ad images with an ad server, but ensure they don't get blocked. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 14:03
  • Do you have control over both domains? Or even better, are both services from the same domain? Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 20:00
  • Ensure the word 'ad' is not used anywhere in your code, domains, etc. and you will already get quite far (it should prevent your server from being automatically blacklisted by a generic regex) Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 21:36

2 Answers 2


The intelligence of the blocker is down to whatever extension or software the user is using. Some will simply block adsense, while others may be configured to read a white list, or black list configuration.

Typically a site with its own ad-network shouldn't be a problem unless the site is used by hundreds of thousands of people, then you may have people submitting your site to the blacklist if the users are finding your site annoying, advert excessive or slow.

There are however more intelligent ad blockers that look for a range of things such as:

  • Adobe Flash Prevention
  • ActiveX Prevention
  • Cookie Tracking Prevention
  • HTML Video Prevention
  • Domain/URL Blocking
  • Popup Prevention
  • New Tab Prevention

As far as I know there's no super smart adblocker with a clever algorithm to detect ads that are not within their database, they are mostly community driven databases. Generally Flash based adverts tend to be blocked the most because like myself and millions of others hate flash, it regularly locks up the browser window, so people use click to consent type blocks, this is also expanding to HTML 5 video since adversities have started to auto play HTML5 videos if flash is blocked.

Most sites don't get submitted to these databases and most blockers will only accept sites that are reported by X amount of users and serve a lot of ads.

If you want to avoid being put on the naughty lists then don't serve too many ads, generally sites with only 1 ad don't get added. If your have many ads on the pages then you should expect users to submit this data. Ensure your ads are fast and video ads don't auto execute as that's number 1 way of getting on the list.

End of the day, most adblockers authors want sites to be supported, so if your site is:

  1. Good quality
  2. Fast
  3. Not excessive in how many ads you use
  4. Relevant adverts

Then you should be ok.... however, a lot of adnetworks monitor cookies, this is also another reason why people block, they want their privacy respected. Not matter how good your site is you will get people block... and there is no 100% solution around this, if there was and I knew what it was then I'd be a billionaire sipping cocktails on my Island called Isle of Simon!

  • Simon thank you, I suppose our only real answer is to give it a try on a demo with a few popular Adblockers and see what happens.
    – Sean
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 14:50
  • EFF Privacy Badger is entirely heuristic driven in deciding what to block, it doesn't use a 3rd party blacklist like ABP/etc. While it's not strictly an AdBlocker, by blocking domains it sees tracking users across multiple websites it will eventually end up blocking most ad servers anyway. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 18:01
  • I've seen some that actively block certain HTML classes / ids that specifically have ad- in them or ads- and some variations. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 21:25

Most ad blockers block 3rd party content from domains that are known to host ads. If you are using an ad server to host non-ad images, your images will got blocked whenever an ad blocker is used.

I have not run across an ad server that does not use any 3rd party requests. Ads are typically served via 3rd parties so that:

  • You don't have to deal with them yourself
  • The advertising network has control over them

Instead of using an ad server, you would be better served by using a hosted image CDN. With an image CDN, you would typically upload your images (maybe via FTP). The directory you put them in would determine the URL. You can usually configure one of your subdomains (like images.example.com) to point to the CDN server. The CDN server would end up handling all the images for you, and it would also serve them faster because it moves them to an edge network close to your visitors.

  • Stephen thanks, it was the CMS of the Adserver that appeals. Whilst the CDN option is great from an image serving perspective I haven't found one that also allows for the management and placement of images on the site. The Adserver we chose does allow us to setup a custom URL on our own subdomain. We just weren't sure whether this was enough to keep the blockers at bay, or if they were looking at other signs of Adserving.
    – Sean
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 14:47
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    Some ad blockers also block based on size of images. If you are hosting this on your own subdomain (with no 3rd party JS to load it) and are using images that are not the standard ad sizes, you may be fine. Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 16:44

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