Disable Ad Block Software? Publishers Ask Readers for Compromise

The strategy behind digital magazines’ effort to have visitors disable ad block programs

Publishers have had it up to here with major sources of their revenue being cut off, and are confronting readers with requests to disable ad block apps or risk losing significant access.

But what’s the best way to block ad blockers? That’s the burning question for digital magazines, and strategy is evolving.

Digiday has done some great reporting on that evolution, with several recent articles on the subject. Let’s see what they’ve discovered!

The New York Times Will Ask Some Readers to Disable Ad Block Software

Even The New York Times has had enough when it comes to ad blocking programs, and will ask small groups of readers to disable ad block programs, Digiday reports.

“‘The best things in life aren’t free, ‘ the pop-up reads. ‘You currently have an ad blocker installed. Advertising helps us fund our journalism,’ then points readers to two options: purchasing a subscription option, which doesn’t strip the site of ads, or to whitelist the Times, which disables the ad blocker. The message is appearing to both subscribers and nonsubscribers of the Times,” Jordan Valinsky writes.

And in a statement to Digiday, the Times says:

“We are opposed to ad blocking, which does not serve the long term interest of consumers. The creation of quality news content is expensive and digital advertising is one way that The New York Times and other high quality news providers fund news gathering operations.”

The Guardian, Too, Will Demand That Visitors Disable Ad Block Apps

Meanwhile, the Guardian, the Times’ transatlantic counterpart, is ramping up its rhetoric when it comes to its attempt to block ad blockers, Digiday reports.

“The Guardian was one of the first in the U.K. to address ad blocking, displaying a message to readers that politely informed them that ads fund its journalism. The publisher also steered ad blocker users toward its membership page. It hasn’t blocked people from viewing the content yet, like other newspapers such as Axel Springer’s Bild and City AM,” Jessica Davies writes.

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“Last November the Guardian said it was mulling alternative options – including creating new, customized formats – having found that the effectiveness of that initial message had waned. The number of adults in the U.K. blocking ads has risen to 22 percent (one in five people) since last October, when it was at 18 percent, according to the IAB’s latest figures. But the same report also showed that a high propensity of ad blocker users were content to switch off their blocker, once they were sent a message informing them of the harm it causes publishers.”

Also in the UK, Mirror and Telegraph to Block Ad Blockers

Trinity Mirror and the Telegraph, too, are testing tougher policies on ad blocking programs, Digiday reports.

“For the past six weeks, The Telegraph has been randomly selecting users with installed ad blockers and showing them messages, asking to whitelist the site. According to Jim Freeman, group sales and trading director at Telegraph Media Group, it is seeing positive results,” Lucinda Southern writes.

“This comes shortly after the IAB and YouGov found that 54 percent of ad block users would be willing to disable their software to view content when presented with a message from the publisher – a glimmer of hope for publishers. Opening this dialogue is just one approach along the scale of ad-blocking responses.”

Other Strategies From Europe to Combat Ad Blocking Programs

Interesting roundup in Digiday with European digital publishers commenting on how they’re getting readers to disable ad block programs.

“We’re testing anti-ad-block on our sites and we hope to see results that are as positive as what Axel Springer’s Bild has seen. We will be polite but tell people they have to turn their blockers off if they want to see the content. We’re a premium publisher; we don’t bombard our users with ads that are a bad experience,” Factory Media UK and Germany Commercial Director Nick Bradley tells Digiday.

“Our sites are about encouraging page view frequency. We only have two display ads a page. We’re not spamming people nor trying to get people to the site on a nefarious basis. I firmly believe if people are coming to the site and enjoying great free content, then there has to be a value exchange, which is that they view ads. We have a wide demographic of 15 to 65 year old, mainly male audience. But it’s the 18-24 age visitors that are using the blockers. Around 25 percent of the audiences that visit the snowboarding and skateboarding sites are blocking ads. Our biggest site Empora, which is a broader sports portal doesn’t have a big issue with ad blocking it’s less than the market average.”

Do you ask readers to disable ad block software? How’s it working out? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about the effort to encourage visitors to disable ad block programs and other news, visit Digiday.

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