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Ad Blockers & The Magazine Industry

Ad Blockers & The Magazine Industry

January 20, 2016 | Lucy Tozer

In 2015, the digital magazine industry witnessed the escalating battle between ad blockers and publishers. Ad blocking can have a detrimental impact for online publishers who rely significantly on digital adverts for revenue.

According to a report by PageFair and Adobe, it was estimated that publishers would have lost $22million by the end of 2015[1]. However, with the right strategies, publishers can easily secure their position and minimise loss.

Like many in the digital arena, magazine publishers have begun to work around the ad blocking issue. Large brands such as Forbes are starting to deny access for users who have installed ad blockers onto their devices. Visitors who use ad blockers are now faced with a polite but firm message before they land on the Forbes website. The message reads “Hi again. Looks like you’re still using an ad blocker. Please turn it off in order to continue into Forbes’ ad-light experience.”  Once the user disables the ad blocker, they are promised the ‘ad-light experience’ for 30 days. Since they implemented this approach, Forbes has seen a huge surge in traffic. In November, they recorded their largest ever comScore audience of 43million, (including mobile and desktop). This is 38 million more than the previous month and 30% year on year[2]. Other magazines such as The Atlantic are completely denying access to ad blocker users, unless they disable the software.

Denying access to ad blocker users is just one of the many ways to tackle the issue.  Some publishers are trying to outsmart and work around ad blockers by changing their ad codes. The ad blockers then adapt to the new codes and publishers change the code again, turning it into a repetitive cycle[3]. However, this can be harmful to the publisher. The president of Reelio, Dave Dickman, stated “Trying to get around ad blocking is not the best approach because it will only upset the consumer, in turn damaging that relationship between your brand and your audience.”[4] It is therefore recommended that publishers try some of the following strategies;

  • Offer higher-quality content that’s worth paying for – Publishers need to offer engaging content that benefits consumers and makes them want to pay to read. Implement different levels of paywall to test this.
  • Educate users about ad blocking implications – Teach your users about the effects of ad blocking and what positive actions you are taking to safeguard their user experience. If they continue to use ad blockers, encourage them to whitelist your publication.
  • Recognise when ad blocking occurs – Use consumer data wisely to recognise the point at which users begin to block ads. Organisations such as BlueConic have developed an ad blocking plug-in for publishers. This allows them to store data in user profiles which informs publishers on their ad blocking status. They can then email ad blocker users separately and present them with relevant content, offers and promotions where ads should have been displayed[5].

For further information on the subject of ad blockers, watch our ‘Beat the Blockers: Your 2016 Ad Survival Guide’ webinar slides here.


[1] http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/News/News-Feature/How-Ad-Blocking-Is-Affecting-Digital-Publishers-and-What-They-Can-Do-About-It-107803.htm

[2] http://digiday.com/publishers/forbes-ad-blocking/

[3] http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/News/News-Feature/How-Ad-Blocking-Is-Affecting-Digital-Publishers-and-What-They-Can-Do-About-It-107803.htm

[4] http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/News/News-Feature/How-Ad-Blocking-Is-Affecting-Digital-Publishers-and-What-They-Can-Do-About-It-107803.htm

[5] http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/News/News-Feature/How-Ad-Blocking-Is-Affecting-Digital-Publishers-and-What-They-Can-Do-About-It-107803.htm