News Group: Let’s Understand Why Consumers Block Ads

Rather than taking on ad blocking by using aggressive strategies, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers suggests a lighter touch.

News publishers continue to face a growing threat from ad-blocking services that prevent them from earning money through website advertisers. Earlier this month the maker of the popular web-browser application Adblock Plus said it reached 100 million installations.

Because of this growth, news organizations have come up with strategies to prevent ad blocking, including the use of messages that encourage site visitors to turn off the software, sign up for a subscription, or leave the website.

But according to new research from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), it may be better for publishers to stop confronting users or ad-blocking software providers and to instead work around the issue.

“The majority [of users] of ad blockers are truly engaged, and they want to improve the site. They don’t want to block the site, but they are trying to make us understand why they are doing it,” WAN-IFRA member Elnaz Esmailzadeh, the commercial product manager of, said in a news release.

The Struggle Is Real

As the Poynter Institute notes, users are downloading ad blockers because they won’t put up with advertisement clutter and weak user interfaces on publishers’ websites.

In the report, WAN-IFRA recommends admitting to these issues and moving to improve online experiences for everyone. And because the association represents thousands of publications worldwide, the findings could drive changes for media outlets big and small.

“Obviously there is a real struggle with [some] brands that want to grab attention any way possible versus the publisher delivering a decent user experience,” WAN-IFRA President Dean Roper told Poynter. “Are we headed for less is more? Probably. [But] that’s a very short, oversimplified answer to a very complex issue.”

With $22 billion in ad revenue at stake in the coming years, WAN-IFRA recommends that publishers create faster, smoother, cleaner user experiences while rejecting ad formats that may be clunky and unattractive. It also suggests asking users of ad blockers to whitelist a site and agree to a “light ad” experience.

As Poynter Media Business Analyst Rick Edmonds notes, the WAN-IFRA report ends with the following: “Publishers have an opportunity to redefine how advertising works online and save the mechanism of advertising that supports content on the open web. Focus on the positives. Focus on where you can make a difference. Make your users happy again.”

Does your website feel like this sometimes? (iStock/Thinkstock)

Patrick deHahn

By Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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