The Atlantic Warns Ad Blocking Readers: Whitelist or Pay
Ad-blockers must whitelist or pay $3.99/month or $39.99/year for ad-free reading.
The Atlantic is tired of ad blockers and, as of Monday, has become the latest publication to tell ad-blocking readers that they must whitelist their site and see ads. To get an ad-free experience, ad blockers can pay $3.99 per month or $39.99 per year, reports Digiday. This change will coincide with the magazine’s move to a more secure https site. The 159-year-old magazine has been testing this change since October with a “soft wall” where ad-blocking readers could still access the site by closing a pop-up window. No more. The new policy was implemented Monday, April 10.
The change was announced last fall in a note to readers which we published on October 18, 2016:
According to Digiday, 10 to 12 percent of visitors to The Atlantic use an ad blocker, and since the soft wall was implemented in October, only half of 1 percent of ad-blocking readers opted to pay for an ad-free experience. Digiday also says The Atlantic anticipates that 60 percent of ad-blocking readers will leave the site when given the option to whitelist or pay.
A spokesperson for The Atlantic told Media Post, “We strongly believe that it’s about choice. And if the choice is to block ads, there must be a value exchange. We appreciate that people have privacy concerns and that – regardless of improvements we make to user experience and security – some may not be satisfied. And so we’re giving them other ways to support The Atlantic.”
Readers of the magazine had mixed reactions to the tougher stance.
The Atlantic is in good company with other publishers with ad-supported models who are frustrated with ad blockers. Some have adopted similar positions, and others like News Corp, The Washington Post, Reuters, Digital Context Next are participating in the Coalition for Better Ads to help curb the "annoying ad" problem at the outset.
Among those are combatting the ad blockers are:
- Business Insider who is taking a similar approach to The Atlantic – disable ad blockers, whitelist the site or subscribe for an ad-free experience.
- WIRED who is asking ad-blocking readers to whitelist their site or pay $1 a week for access to ad-free content.
- GQ who offets the option to whitelist their site or make micropayments of $0.50 per article.
These publishers are perhaps pioneers in standing up for the value of their content, but they won’t be alone. Other publishers will join them because ad blocking remains a huge financial issue. According to PageFair and Adobe Systems, in 2016, ad blocking cost publishers an estimated $20.3 billion dollars, four times the total in 2014.
We expect to see more of this as publishers take a stand against the use of ad blockers. Publishers need to support their work somehow, and many choose to do so through the use of ads. Readers who use ad blockers circumvent that system rob publishers of revenue needed to sustain their operations. Based on The Atlantic’s own experience, publishers don’t expect to make any significant revenue from the ”whitelist-or-pay-up” approach, but they do want readers to think twice about the value of the content they are reading for free.