Now, I know honourable mentions need to go to Axel Springer for its work with Bild.de and Conde Nast, plus I've also read that The Guardian has started trialling gentle reminders to ad blockers that they are threatening free content. However, I'm all for action on this issue -- or at least, if you have a nice "disable your ad blocker to view this article," you have to actually go through with a threat to block the blockers. The cold, hard reality of ad blocking is that every piece of research has shown it is more prevalent with men and with younger people -- making Millennial males the most likely culprits. The research also just about always shows ad blockers know what they are doing. They completely understand the link between free content and advertising, yet they still opt for the free ride option.
Regular readers of MAD London will know how much this gets my proverbial goat. It should anger everyone in publishing. Sure, sites need to get their act together by not offering overly intrusive advertising and ensure that ads do not contain malware because these are the two main excuses given by ad blockers for their behaviour.
However, tell me this. City AM claims that one in five of those using Firefox to access its site use ad-blocking technology. Do these tens of thousands of weekly users really think the advertising is over the top and will infect their computer, or are they simply looking for a free ride where articles load a bit quicker and the editorial looks more streamlined without ad units vying for their attention around the content? I know which of the two I'm convinced is more likely.
I'll mention once again my complete surprise that free and subscription-based sites don't offer an ad-free model so users can choose a premium level of service without the ads. It just seems to make so much sense to me that I'm bemused it's not on offer because then ad blockers really don't have a leg to stand on. There's an alternative to having ads that funds quality content -- take it or leave it.
So make no mistake -- ad blockers know exactly what they're doing because the most prevalent blockers are Millennial males who have grown up with free content being supported by advertising. The only option is to offer an ad free subscription or freeze them out altogether with no wimpy message to play nicely. They need to be told they are the digital equivalent of shop lifters and the only way they're going to get quality content is to pay for ad-free services (when they're offered) or disable their ad blocker.
For taking a firm stance, the media industry should be applauding City AM loudly and following in their footsteps.