What is a Blocklist?

A blocklist is a list that details what type of advertisers or ad categories a publisher does not want to appear on their site. This can be for any number of reasons but most often because of brand safety, user experience and/or legal compliance. 

More often than not, publishers use blocklists to prevent specific categories of ads from appearing on websites or apps that they deem inappropriate or unsafe for their users. Publishers have a responsibility to their online community, and blocklists can help prevent any unwanted ads from appearing on their website. 

Benefits of using Blocklists

We work with a number of ad-sensitive publishers that prioritize the content and quality of ads our partners deliver across their apps, websites, and e-commerce sites. Whether that’s blocking your competitors from advertising where your customers shop, or keeping adult-targeted ads from populating on a website geared towards kids – Freestar has the quality control to safeguard brand safety, all while ensuring monetization opportunities are not lost. 

Using a blocklist in ad tech can offer several benefits for publishers, including:

  1. Improved ad quality – By using a blocklist, publishers can ensure that no bad or malicious ads appear on their website which can negatively impact their user experience.
  2. Brand safety – Publishers can avoid displaying ads that are considered objectionable or harmful or is considered a competitor. This helps to protect the publisher’s brand from association with content that may not align with their values or image.
  3. Increased user engagement – By avoiding displaying unwanted ads, users are more likely to have a more positive user experience and engage with ads.

How do Blocklists work?

A blocklist can block specific advertisers or brands, or it can block entire categories of advertisers. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) maintains an industry standard list of advertising content categories. Freestar uses these categories as the basis for our publisher blocklists, and we will ensure that they are mapped appropriately to each demand partner’s blocking capabilities.

Freestar has the knowledge and expertise to help curate site-specific blocklists by category and brand. Freestar has several options for blocklists when onboarding a new site: Default, Standard, or Sensitive. 

  • The Default Blocklist includes Non-Standard and Illegal Content, as well as auto-play sound type ads.
  • The Standard Blocklist includes all of the above plus items that are age-specific, like alcohol or dating. 
  • The Sensitive Blocklist includes all of the above plus additional blocks that users can be more sensitive to seeing, like religion or politics.

What are the drawbacks of a blocklist?

A blocklist does not guarantee 100% of the ads displaying on a publisher’s website will be brand safe. On the occasion a ‘bad’ ad does get through, our team is on hand to help investigate the bad ad. Any information you can provide will help in our investigation, so please provide as much of the following as possible:

  • Screenshot of issue, preferably in hi-res PNG format
  • Advertiser or brand
  • Clickthrough URL or landing page
  • URL where it happened
  • Date and time of issue
  • Device, browser and OS
  • City/state/country where it happened
  • HAR file if possible

Our Ad Quality team will investigate this and determine which demand partner it came from and how we can minimize it from occurring again. For our more sensitive publisher, there is the option to activate our ‘Report This Ad’ feature which allows a user to provide real-time feedback on any ads they encounter that might not be a great fit for the website.

The other drawback of a blocklist is ad performance. By blocking specific advertisers or categories, publishers may impact ad revenue. However, some publishers find this tradeoff worth it especially if brand safety is a top concern. 

Key Takeaways

Freestar works with ad quality partners who are focused on delivering better ad experiences, and keeping up to date with ad-blocking trends around the world. Our dedicated Customer Success team are always ready to work with your team to find a tailored solution that fits your needs best! If you have any questions,  please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Customer Success Manager or email us