Its founder decided that success just didn't feel right and that by blocking ads on all mobile Web site, instead of allowing users to choose sites individually, he had hurt a lot of people. It's a surprise conversion on the proverbial road to Damascus which is very welcome and comes as an open admission that ad blockers are sledgehammers to smash a peanut. By blocking all advertising, these ad tech gurus are not just stopping unwanted ad units from popping up and getting in the way, they are preventing sites from using traditional, universally accepted ad units from earning revenue.
So as the app that was topping Apple's charts pulls out of the game, there can surely be no better time for publishers to withhold content from browsers running ad-blocking extensions. The moral high ground undoubtedly belongs to publishers who are struggling to pay for quality and contend -- and can now even say -- that the guys behind the most popular iOS blocker realised they were in the wrong, so it's about time that others did too.
Just think about it for a minute. What could possibly be wrong with refusing to give away free content to a person who has blocked ads? It is such a simple decision to make, yet publishers seem incapable of growing a spine and taking the fight back to digital shop lifters. If someone doesn't want to see your ads, that's fine -- but they need to know that comes at the price of receiving the content. If enough publishers get tough, it will put ad blockers at a real disadvantage. What seemed like a win:win of all the content with none of the ads will soon turn around as content is replaced by a polite message asking the person to disable their blocker to view the desired article.
That is how simple this could be. Why don't publishers get a common form of wording agreed upon, or even a microsite explaining the issues? Something along the lines of people having to accept that free content has to be produced by people with mortgages who have the right to earn a living. Turn the ads off and you're effectively saying people should work for free.
There will be some out there who will always see that content is cheap, it should be provided free, and there are other ways for publishers to make money. But their arguments are so out of touch with reality, they are just even worth engaging with.
So a polite message -- perhaps pointing out that the number one app for iPhones has ceased blocking ads because it was hurting people. Now is the reader's chance to let others earn a living -- to disable the blocker or look elsewhere for content.
There's no risk to the publishers other than reader figures going down, but higher figures don't mean a thing if people are just free riding on your hard-earned reputation for quality content.
I've raised this whole issue before, but the timing has never been more right to bring it to the fore again. Publishers have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If they carry on serving ad blockers free content, then they only have themselves to blame for their eventual demise.