Blocking The Blockers -- Europe Turns The Screws On Digital Shoplifters

Bravo! That seems the only appropriate reaction to news out of France that several of the country's best-known titles have come together to block the ad blockers. Le Monde, L'Equipe and Le Parisien have joined a project that will show a message pointing out to people visiting their sites with ad blockers that the only way they can pay their staff is to have their content supported by ads.

While Le Monde leaves it there, allowing users to go on to the site after reading the educational message, L'Equipe and Le Parisien go further. In my view, they are to be congratulated for their tougher stance, which prevents ad blockers from going on to the site until they disable their technology. This is the kind of firm stance we have already seen The Telegraph, Mirror Group and City AM take in the UK.

I haven't seen any figures yet to suggest how many disable their tech to view the content -- but in a way, it's a secondary issue. The main point is that publishers are stepping up and telling digital shoplifters that they can't keep stealing content without doing their part in the value exchange -- publishers give free content, and readers accept that it is supported by advertising.

Research study after research study points out that the majority of people know this is how they are offered free content -- t's just that a growing number try to circumvent the system and enjoy free content without the supporting ads. However, there is a ray of light here from the IAB UK. It claims that nearly two in three of UK ad blockers have seen a message asking them to deactivate their software to ensure that journalists can be paid and the proverbial lights kept on. 

IAB UK's CEO, Guy Phillipson, reacted to the news of French blocking by reminding the media that this is already happening in the UK, and that not only is there a LEAN and DEAL set of recommendations to guide publishers in dealing with blockers, there is also more acceptance among blockers that to see quality content, they need to drop their guard.

"The good thing is that consumers are increasingly aware of the value exchange," he says. "Our YouGov research bears this out, with 54% saying they would deactivate their ad blockers for certain content. This rises to 73% of 18-25 year olds -- who are most likely to have an ad blocker installed. Publishers looking to find out more information on how the IAB can help combat ad blocking should refer to the IAB’s LEAN and DEAL recommendations to ensure the future of the ad funded internet.” 

So it has been pretty rare, of late, to be able to say something positive about ad blocking. The start-ups behind ad blockers are running thinly veiled protection rackets that are hinting they will become more publisher friendly in the future for those with huge audience and large budgets to pay for potential white listing. The fact is, this has nothing to do with them -- they're middlemen trying to offer people a free ride around the internet that is not their's to give.

I've been saying it for a while but the only way we can reward good content and professional creatives is to ban the blockers. Let them look around content that is free and whose creators do not mind give it away for just as long as it takes them to go bust. 

By standing together, quality content providers can take the fight back to the blockers. Thank goodness some are.

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