Assessing Anti-Ad-Block Efforts From Digital Publishers

What anti-ad-block measures are digital magazines and other media companies taking to counter this growing concern?

Coming up with anti-ad-block tactics is emerging as one of the great causes for magazine publishers who are determined to maintain digital advertising revenue regardless of readers’ own aggressive push for a cleaner experience via third-party software companies.

For digital magazines dependent on ads, this is an issue of basic fairness. For consumers, this is an issue of preference, and with so much content available out there, they would seem to have the pick of the litter. Which is why publishers are trying to forge a concerted deterrent for ad blocking, one that finds everyone on the same page and compromises with readers.

Digiday has produced a series of fine and informative articles on anti-ad-block measures in recent weeks. Let’s take a look at their latest!

How’s Forbes’ Anti-Ad-Block Test Program Working Out?

Forbes Chief Product Officer Lewis D’Vorkin has been up front with readers about the publisher’s approach to ad blocking programs, which has basically been to block them for half of the site’s visitors if they refused to disable them. Now, Forbes is able to measure the impact a bit, Digiday reports.

“In a follow-up post today, D’Vorkin shared a chart showing what content sections people visited in the first full month of the ad blocking experiment. Turns out the tech section’s share of traffic was roughly the same across ad blocker and non-ad blocker readers. The same was pretty much true for readers of gaming content, who also tend to be early adopters of ad blockers,” Lucia Moses writes.

“D’Vorkin also said that Forbes would start testing different messages today aimed at ad blocker users, with a link to instructions on how to disable the software or whitelist Forbes. It’ll stop playing autoplay video ads at the top of posts, eliminating an intrusive ad format that’s often blamed for contributing to ad blocking adoption in the first place. And Forbes is also taking aim at people who turn their ad blockers off or whitelist Forbes, only to undo that action — it’s going to cut them off at one page on a subsequent visit.”

Micropayments Are Not the Answer to Block Ad Blockers

Will pay-per-article plans work with the rise of ad blocking programs? Digiday says no, based on a survey of publishing executives.

“The fact is, consumers dislike micropayments. They dislike the cognitive load of having to decide whether to click and pay, and they dislike being nickel-and-dimed,” Economist Deputy Editor Tom Standage told Jessica Davies.

“Whenever people start to talk about micropayments again (as they do every few years) I tell people to go and read [Clay Shirky’s 2000 essay on the subject], and ask whether the new thing being talked about – iTunes, Blendle, Bitcoin – addresses the fundamental problem.”


But Can Publishers Convert Ad Blocking Visitors Into Subscribers?

Voetbal International, a Dutch soccer publisher, gets most of its revenue from ads, and with 20% of visitors using ad blocking, its magazines are attempting to restructure subscription pricing strategies to convert some of those readers, Digiday reports.

“We’d rather go for one proposition rather than break it out into multiple options. We may lower the subscription price or provide more original content for our subscribers like video. Micropayments would work if a bunch of other good publishers also did it, but on our own, it wouldn’t work,” Voetbal International Yield and Ad Tech manager Jeremy Noya told Davies.

“Banning won’t solve anything, people will just get their news elsewhere. We wanted to have a more clear view on what’s going on, and given ad blocking isn’t a problem we have caused ourselves, we wanted to get more insight into why people are using them to help us adjust our approach.”

Or What About At Least Gathering User Data in Exchange for Content?

Meanwhile, Canada’s Narcity Media is attempting something more modest, but ultimately just as useful when it comes to monetization: acquiring user data in exchange for articles by asking visitors to log in via Facebook, Digiday reports.

“We wanted to address this in a way that benefited us but without asking too much from the readers,” Narcity Media CEO Chuck Lapointe told Ricardo Bilton.

“We know that most people are lazy and for them to go into their ad blocker settings and whitelist us would be too much work.”

Who’s Responsible for Anti-Ad-Block Task at Digital Magazines?

Which staffers does it fall on to devise anti-ad-block strategies? Digiday finds that it depends on the publisher, but all agree that personnel with a direct line to visitors should have significant input.

“Ultimately, you want a problem like ad blocking as close to the team that owns the relationship with the consumer,” Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint told Moses.

“That’s where the trust breakdown is and that’s likely where you can make sure you’re differentiating your experience from the rest of the Web.”

How are your anti-ad-block efforts coming along? Are you playing nice or fighting back? Share your experiences in the comments!

To read more about anti-ad-block efforts and other industry news, visit Digiday.


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