New ad-tech terms: “ad reinsertion”, “ad recovery”, “ad replacement”

Even if you have an ad blocker installed, you might see a banner or other advertising element on the website. Why is this happening? Most likely, you see the results of one of the technologies to bypass adblockers and display ads to their users. Marketers and site owners are not ready to tolerate the fact that people block ads.

Three new terms are being often discussed by professionals as a response to the growth of ad blockers. These are "ad reinsertion," "ad recovery" and "ad replacement." Let's figure out what this is, and how these approaches differ, why you see advertising even if you are protected from them and how will it all develop.

What is it

All of them describe ways to display ads to the ad blocker's user by bypassing the blocking technologies.

"Recovery" and "replacement" are alternative subsets of "reinsertion." In other words, reinsertion can be implemented as a recovery or replacement. Ad reinsertion is a general term which describes the practice of serving ads to browsers actively using an ad blocker.

What is the difference

The term "recovery" describes the situation when the original ad banner is recovered, the one which an ad blocker tried to block. Within "replacement," another advertising element may be shown, not the one that the user could see without the ad blocker on this page.

Ad "replacement" in this system is considered more ethical, "ecological" and promising from the point of view of the ultimate success of solving advertising tasks. Apologists for "replacement" believe that it is necessary to take into account the user's desires. Since he does not want to see banners, it's not good to force him. One must think about why the user does not want to see them, and what to show, so that it does not cause such rejection.

How it works

The technological implementation of these strategies can vary from company to company.
Usually the technology "sees" that the ad has been blocked, and makes a request to an alternative ad server, which the blocker does not yet know about. From there the banner is sent to a page in the user's browser. Sometimes the request to the ad server is encrypted so that the ad blocker could not stop it.

Instead of bypassing the ad blocker, a website can "negotiate" with it. Some companies which are creators of ad blockers (like AdBlock Plus) develop their own standards for acceptable ads. Sites that are ready to place ads in accordance with these standards, fall into the "white list" of the ad blocker; usually, they are offered to pay for getting into this list. Ads from the "whitelist" are shown by default to users of the ad blocker, although they can disable it in the settings as well.

Who does it

The most notable players in the ad blockers' bypassing market are Admiral, Blockthrough,,, SecretMedia. SourcePoint combines strategies - the site owner can show ad blocking users a message about the importance of advertising for the existence of the site, offer to view non-target advertising or support the site with donations.

PageFair (one of the first companies that started to sell ad reinsertion, also developed standards of acceptable ads and sells the placement of such ads on websites where their code is implemented.

In 2016 Facebook also tried to implement its own ad reinsertion technology, announcing that it will now fight desktop ad blockers.

How ad blockers respond

Ad blockers surely can't sit idly by and watch ad "recoverers" break through their protection - otherwise, they simply won't fulfill their obligations to users. Basically, there is a constant race of shields and swords - ad blockers create new filters, lists of ad servers and ways of detecting advertising, anti-blockers bring fresh stocks, which after a while again fall into the filters and updates of ad blockers and stop working.

Most likely, ad recovery will still give way to ad replacement as a more compromise strategy for all parties. The main difficulty in its implementation is the development of standards for acceptable advertising that will be accepted and executed by all players of the market and which will take into account the needs of the audience, allowing advertising to become less intrusive, less inconvenient, less resource-consuming and won't be infringing the users' privacy.

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