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Effects of Removing Blacklisting

Posted Nov 15, 2020

For publishers, it may make sense to not allow ads from competitors or from other user acquisition apps that might accelerate your churn. However, this blacklisting might be costing developers a tremendous opportunity for revenue. According to a study from a cybersecurity solution company, CHEQ and the Merrick School of Business, U.S. online news publishers lost $2.8 billion in revenue to keyword blacklisting in 2019.

What’s Blacklisting?

  • For publishers, blacklists include advertisers that are blocked from their app
  • For advertisers, a blacklist identifies apps where the advertiser does not want its advertising to appear

What’s Keyword Blacklisting?

Keyword blacklisting is one of the blocking controls for ads that appear in the publisher’s app. Any ad content that contains one or more specified keywords that the publisher sets will be blocked and won’t be shown.

Impact of Removing Blacklisting

In the case of publishers, while blacklisting is used to prevent potentially competing apps, ad demand sources become limited as the blacklisted keywords artificially limit the number of ads users might see.

It’s true that some competitors may target apps in their same genre and publishers often are wary of removing or lessening blacklisting settings for fear of cannibalization of their user base if users install competing apps that are advertised.

However, if a user is going to churn out of an app, it’s highly unlikely they were going to stay in that app much longer anyway. User churn is a real thing regardless of how good an app is, so developers may as well make a little eCPM off users who were already on the cusp.

Removing keyword blacklisting from apps will:

  • Drive increased eCPM
  • Drive increased ad ARPDAU
  • Drive increased total revenue

Thus, the question is not whether removing a blacklisting will cause user cannibalization, but how much revenue can be gained.

Download the full report for all of the insights and key founding of the case studies based on different app categories! 

Here’s one of the many examples of how removing blacklisting affect the revenue or eCPM depending on app genres. 

Revenue Case Study: Strategy Builder

In this case, The publisher of a strategy builder game with 1.6M DAU and over 5M MAU adjusted its blacklist settings to allow more advertisers within its app. Previously, the publisher banned ads for any chart-topping games targeting the same demographic as its core users. 

During this period, the app experienced typical eCPM for its genre. In the weeks following the update:

  • eCPMs: ▲ 29%
  • Impressions: ▲ 160%
  • Ad Use Rate: ▲ 12%
  • Overall Revenue: ▲ 238%
  • Ad ARPDAU: ▲ 236%
  • DAU: ▲ 0.7%
  • MAU: ▲ 47%
  • Average Session Time: ▲ 1.5%.

About the Study
The data was compiled within AdColony’s network, where it was then anonymized and analyzed. 

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Yoohyun (Karen) Kim
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