Can metered paywalls be the solution to voluntary whitelisting of adblockers?
As they say, if you’re not paying for a product, then you’re the product. And in publishing, when you’re giving away content on your site for free, users don’t seem to understand that you need ads to keep the free content flowing. Adblockers are obviously making it hard to keep this business model alive and well.
According to AdAge, Business Insider’s co-founder and CEO Henry Blodget “has long harbored ambitions to create a dual-revenue business model, buoyed by both advertising and subscriptions.”
In order to see if they can make it work, Blodget says they’ll test those ambitions with a three-month test:
“The company plans to test those ambitions, starting [in September] with a “small,” randomly selected group of readers, who will be prompted to subscribe to Business Insider. As is standard with so-called metered paywalls, the readers selected for this test will get an allotment of free articles. Multiple meter levels will be tried, starting at 10 free stories. For those impacted, the meter will re-start every 30 days.
These selected users will see the subscription message three times, at the beginning of the test, at the mid-point of their free story allotment, and with one story remaining.”
The subscription will be $1 for the first month, and $9.95 for every month thereafter.
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In the same time, they have “installed and enabled an ad blocker will be told to either whitelist Business Insider’s website or pay up for a subscription, the same one offered to the small group of paywall-testers. (The New York Times is experimenting with a similar, whitelist-or-pay approach, which CEO Mark Thompson said in June is seeing results.)” With the increase in revenue, he wants to increase their editorial budget.
“The subscription offering will be “ad light,” which means paying customers will see branded content but not display advertisements, which are considered to be more distracting. Mr. Blodget said Business Insider has been materially hurt by ad-blocking, but that the impact has been small, “not huge,” relative to the industry average.”
Voluntary whitelisting by users isn’t the only method to overcome adblockers, though. Recently there’s been a spotlight on the AdBlock Plus whitelist program. AdBlock is one of the major ad blockers out there, and this program allows you to pay so that your ads don’t get blocked by consumers using the program.
Digiday explains the process:
Costs: “Websites that generate at least 10 million ad impressions per month for ABP users must pay if they want to be whitelisted. According to ABP, large websites fork over 30 percent of the revenue they make off whitelisted ads.” They say 59 percent of the 5,000 most popular websites are whitelisted including the The Financial Times report that Google, Amazon and Microsoft whitelist ads.
Process: According to one publisher, “Before you get in conversations about whitelisting, they will send you a list of nondisclosure agreements you have to sign before you can have a discussion. It’s the ad blocking companies’ way of keeping this ransom business arrangement under wraps.”
Criteria: “If a company wants its ads whitelisted, it must apply for the exception and conform the ads to meet ABP’s “acceptable ads criteria.” (Publishers with under 10 million ad impressions per month do not need to pay.) Ads considered intrusive, such as pop-ups and animated ads, are automatically excluded. And even text ads are regulated by location, size and labeling. According to Eyeo CEO Till Faida, the screening is “very manual” and not algorithmically driven. ABP claims that paying is not enough to get whitelisted.”
Decisions: “ABP used to vet whitelist proposals in a public forum before unblocking the ads. Over the course of about two weeks, forum members would denote if ads violated ABP’s criteria, and ABP would take the feedback back to advertisers and demand that ads in violation be altered in order to get whitelisted. But about two years ago, ABP changed the process. Now ads are approved internally and whitelisted before they hit the forum. According to an ABP spokesperson, the change was made because the two weeks of forum messaging felt like an unnecessary delay.”
We bet consumers using Adblock Plus don’t know businesses can pay to have their ads whitelisted in their service, but it’s interesting to learn the process, what do you think?