Wave 2 Blog

WAN-IFRA’s ad blocking action day

One of the biggest issues in online publishing today is ad blocking. It’s no small threat either. There are now 198 million active ad block users around the world, a figure which was estimated to cost publishers $22 billion in 2015. In two of our core markets, the US and UK, ad blocking grew 48% and 82% respectively last year. It’s a problem right across the board both for advertisers and publishers.

It was therefore of immense interest when we learnt of WAN-IFRA’s (World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) Ad Blocking Action Day in Frankfurt on Thursday 11th February 2016.

Taking place between the hours of 10am and 4pm, the event aims to cast a light on how ad blocking is a challenge to online business models; what steps publishers can take to improve the user experience; and what courses of action publishers can take to win back readers who are actively blocking.

Held in the English language, the event will highlight case studies focusing on actions taken to improve the online user experience as well as creating quality ad content. Both are crucial in persuading consumers to switch off ad blockers. Speakers will include senior figures from WAN-IFRA, Germany’s Welt Gruppe and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as well as Sweden’s Aftonbladet.

Whilst WAN-IFRA has found that 76% of news publishers are either extremely or very concerned about ad blocking, it’s encouraging to recognise that a number of publishers are taking matters into their own hands.

Condé Nast’s iconic GQ magazine is pushing back against readers using ad blocking by asking them to switch it off or pay to read an article. Current prices are set at 50 cents a story and GQ receives the funds using micropayment technology.

Forbes has taken a similar tack but rather than request payment to negate the effects of ad blockers, the publication offered a test group of readers an ‘ad light’ experience if they turned their ad blockers off. Early results show 42.4 per cent of Forbes visitors who were asked to turn their ad blockers off did so – as well as receiving a thank you message.

Over here in the UK, a quarter of CityAM readers turned off ad blockers in a recent trial.  According to reports, the financial freesheet began blurring text on articles displayed to ad blocker users on Firefox nearly four months ago. Significantly, CityAM has found that the people who decide not to turn their ad blockers off are the same people who only arrive for one page visit anyway.

What’s clear is that there are many methods available to publishers to counteract ad blocking, and if the aforementioned titles are any guide, many readers are starting to understand that if they want to consume high quality content they need to uphold their side of the bargain either via ads or paywalls.

As one of the world’s leading suppliers of self-service advertising solutions, all that remains is to wish WAN-IFRA the very best with its Ad Blocking Action Day. It deserves wide publicity!