What Publishers Are Doing to Stop Ad Blockers – or at Least Deal With Them

The quest to stop ad blockers might be quixotic, but maybe there’s some space to negotiate

To stop ad blockers, digital publishers have to think like consumers using ad blockers, and that process is pretty simple: If you clutter up their user experience with thoughtless auto-play and clumsily deployed displays, then they’re going to avoid your content – even if it’s quality content.

So, you can block ad blockers with impunity or let them run rampant across your site … or, you can find some middle ground.

Digiday has a little bit of everything with recent coverage. Let’s get right to it!

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Digital Content Next Issues Guidelines for Anti-Ad-Block Efforts

Digital Content Next has entered into high-level strategy discussions to come up with a plan to convince ad block users to reconsider their “ad choices,” Digiday reports.

“The recommendations came out of closed-door meetings in Europe and the U.S. by DCN and ad blocking vendor PageFair. One, that took place earlier in May, had around 25 people representing publishers, advertisers, ad agencies, industry associations, browsers and privacy interests. They included reps from ESPN, Google, the 4As, The Guardian, Havas Media, New York Media, PageFair, Univision and MPA. Three specific recommendations came out of the meetings, building on efforts that are already underway in the industry. It said that beyond ad blockers, users should have tools to reject and to complain about advertising (something that provides a feedback loop, as Facebook and Reddit do),” Lucia Moses writes.

“They called for publishers to restore a limited number of premium ads on blocked sites (as Forbes and other publishers do by offering an ad-light experience). Third, they called for publishers and advertisers to commit to a maximum pageload time standard, which is happening already with individual publishers and Google with its Accelerated Mobile Pages. The hardest idea to implement might be the fact that on the blocked web, third-party tracking isn’t possible, Kint said, so publishers will have to find other ways to get value from readers.”

… But Would It Be Better to Listen to Incisive Media to Stop Ad Blockers?

Incisive is seeing some success with its hawkish policy on ad blocking, Digiday reports.

“Publishers often wring their hands about how tough to get with ad blocking. U.K. business publisher Incisive Media decided late last year to block access to its tech publications The Inquirer and V3, both of which had ad-block use rates of over 20 percent. The result: Within 48 hours, the number of page impressions ad-blocked dropped by 40 percent,” Jessica Davies writes.

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“Before the ban, which started in April, 30 percent of page impressions were being blocked on The Inquirer, and 20 percent on V3. During major product launches, like Apple’s iPhone 6S last September, organic search and social traffic normally spikes — and the number of page impressions affected by ad blockers hit 40 percent. The publisher has determined that any site which sees 20 percent of pages ad-blocked will have a ban.”

… Or Epicurious, the Latest to Block Ad Blockers?

Epicurious is the latest to come out hard against ad blocking programs, Digiday reports.

“Publishers continue to get tough with ad blockers. For a new, six-week test, Condé Nast site Epicurious is serving a pop-up to ad blockers, requiring them to disable their ad blocking software or register in order to continue using the site,” Moses writes.

“Epicurious isn’t requiring people to pay up for now, but it sees value in getting people’s emails when they register. Its relationship with the user is important, and getting emails gives Epicurious a way to communicate with and forge a connection with them.”

Time, Meanwhile, Is Trying a Different Tack

We’ve seen all sorts of approaches when it comes to the effort to stop ad blockers, but Time Inc. digital might have the most interesting, calling it a “plea.” But it’s a pretty funny plea. Digiday has the story:

“Time.com is joining the ranks of publishers that are trying to combat ad blocking. But while an increasing number of publishers, including The New York Times and Wired, are taking the hard-nosed route and preventing people from accessing the site if they’re using an ad blocker, Time is taking a much softer approach. Ad block users see a box ad on the upper left of the site and a banner ad at the top that invites users to ‘Break Time.com,'” Moses writes.

“When you click the box, visual elements of the site appear to fall off, and up pops a message that while cheery, tries to guilt readers into turning off their ad blockers by reminding them that Time’s journalism is supported by advertising.”

Are you having any success in your efforts to stop ad blockers? Can you share any secrets in the comments?

To read more about the quest to stop ad blockers and other industry news, visit Digiday.


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