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Ad blocker ban trial launched by regional publisher

A trial banning readers using ad blockers from viewing stories on newspaper websites has been launched by a regional publisher.

The trial by Newsquest means people using the software, which removes advertising links from web pages, are unable to view individual stories on some of its websites.

Instead, readers are confronted with a message explaining that the revenue from advertising funds local journalism and a guide to removing ad blockers.

The trial is being conducted on several Newsquest-owned websites, including those of the Croydon Guardian and Warrington Guardian, while the publisher has also said the idea of paywalls is under review at the group.

The homepage of the Croydon Guardian's website

The homepage of the Croydon Guardian’s website

Andrew Parkes, group managing editor for Newsquest South London, said: “We want to persuade our users not to use ad blocking on our sites so we’re trialling technology which identifies people using ad blockers and explains to them that it is advertising which funds the local journalism they enjoy for free.

“It’s early days but so far we’ve seen a positive response with a significant percentage of users turning their ad blockers off.”

When readers using ad blockers are confronted with the message, they can click a link which takes them to a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Among the questions asked are whether it is “really reasonable to expect people to work hard and then not be paid for it”.

The frequently page also acknowledges there is a “balance to be struck” when it comes to adverts getting in the way of content, and urges anyone concerned about specific types of ads to get in touch.

It also poses the question: “Would you be willing to take the ads off completely if I paid you?”   The response states this is something “under review”.

Newsquest-owned daily the Northern Echo and titles at its Glasgow-based Herald & Times Group have both introduced metered paywall systems in recent years, which allow readers to view a certain number of stories for free each month before being charged to see more.

20 comments

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  • January 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm
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    Good luck with that one!
    ad blockers are there for a reason ; to block unwanted ads
    Better to concentrate on making the site content something people want to read and of sufficient quality to keep them interested and coming back for more than asking them to accept pop up commercial advertising.
    The plea that ad revenue funds free content is an issue for the company to resolve not a problem they should pass on to the potential user.
    And as for the line ” whether it is “really reasonable to expect people to work hard and then not be paid for it” is again something they need to redress internally,
    On that point it would also be very interesting to see how many of their staffers feel they are adequately paid for the work they do?

    The arrogance of expecting people to put up with intrusive adverts to read a commercial website Beggars belief.

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  • January 19, 2016 at 3:29 pm
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    And so the adblocker apocalypse begins. Tech companies v media companies. I know who my money is on.

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  • January 19, 2016 at 4:19 pm
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    If I was totally desperate to read a story from one of those websites I could always view the source code as the story will still be in there, but I’m sure it won’t be long before an adblocker blocker blocker is written as a browser extension!

    Then you’ll probably get people cutting and pasting the stories that do get on it onto Facebook or telling people the gist of the story so they don’t click through.

    I can understand the frustration behind them putting them up though but it sounds a bit pointless.

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  • January 19, 2016 at 4:56 pm
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    Found another method not sure if I should be showing them via HTFP but it might help them refine their methods. If I open up Chrome, open the console window using F12 then click on the link I want to read it doesn’t detect my adblocker! Took five minutes.

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  • January 19, 2016 at 5:49 pm
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    Most users have no issue with non-intrusive ads, but Local World’s rollover ads (particularly on mobile) mean an adblocker is an essential add-on to any browser.

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  • January 19, 2016 at 8:44 pm
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    I’ll disable the adblocker when websites (including NQ ones in the past) stop delivering viruses via their use of 3rd-party ad networks.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 5:58 am
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    I gave up reading the Lincolnshire Echo ages ago online. I felt I was in a blizzard of ads which were flying all over the place. What a horrible mess

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  • January 20, 2016 at 8:23 am
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    It might be more helpful in terms of sustaining the business long-term if the message were to explain that actually it’s NEWSPAPERS, not maddening pop-ups, that funds the website. Just saying.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 8:58 am
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    People will go elsewhere rather than bother with disabling ad-blocker and then enabling it again when they leave the website. Short-sighted. Newsquest might be wise to try and understand why readers think ad-blocker is worthwhile…

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  • January 20, 2016 at 9:34 am
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    They clearly don’t understand the concept of ad blockers, they are there for a reason as the first commenter pointed out so asking potential users to turn it off to then have to suffer bombardment and interruptions to whatever it was they visited the site for will only turn more people off and lose what few casual readers they had.
    By uploading weak web content as nibs ( usually not updated often enough) and including tasters or rehashing old news with a view to nudging people to the news print titles they have further shot themselves in the foot and are likely to lose any casual web visitor and not gain any new paid for paper .readers as a result.
    Far better to make the sites worth visiting with strong local news pieces to get an audience then train your ad reps up to sell it.

    One of the biggest obstacles to preventing local newspaper company’s from making money on line is the lack of understanding and knowledge by their staff, the ad reps bluff their way round relying on smoke and mirrors to try to fool the retailer while those behind the scenes obviously don’t understand the medium.
    Until you sort this fundamental aspect guys you’ll never start monetising your web offerings and asking people to turn off their ad lockers will only further alienate your potential audience.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 11:31 am
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    You can allow sites to bypass blockers so you don’t have to turn it on and off the whole time, just mark Croydon G as a safe site.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 12:25 pm
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    Paywalls for websites? They had better be brilliant.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 12:27 pm
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    I think it’s all about balance. If you went to a site and there was the odd ad it wouldn’t be a problem but when you go to many local newspaper sites you are bombarded with the bloody things. It’s like watching ITV with ten minute ad breaks.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 12:30 pm
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    I constantly find it ironic that HTFP; a website for Journalists, constantly has journalists defending ad blocking; or in this case suggesting other ways around paying for content.

    I have 20 years in advertising; I’m on the side of the content people but when you have people like analyst at the top of this feed suggesting that people shouldn’t have to pay for content on a commercial website then I begin to lose the will to live.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 12:35 pm
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    It’s quite simple…there is no future in trying to monetise news websites. So stop trying. People have the idea that everything on the net is free except what you buy off Amazon and EBay. They really hate ads on the net so stop trying to force them down people’s throats. JP, NQ et Al can try but they’ll never make money from the net.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 4:41 pm
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    The fact you call it ‘the net’ immediately invalidates any relevant point you may have had in a digital discussion.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 5:36 pm
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    Here’s a thought . . .

    People use ad blockers because they don’t want to view adverts. Newspapers want adverts to be read so they make money.

    Houston we have a problem.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 5:39 pm
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    Here’s another thought . . .

    Nobody is going to pay for content. Your readers don’t want to read adverts.

    Game over.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 7:00 pm
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    You’re missing the point @constantly in disbelief
    The issue is how can you expect people to read content if they’re bombarded by adverts and annoying sales messages which are more likely to turn them away?

    in a paper the adverts are ambient and can be read ,glanced at or skipped over ( a soft sell) , on a site they’re intrusive to the news , just like an annoying pushy sales person desperate to sell whatever it is they’re selling and no one likes a pushy sales person do they?

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  • January 20, 2016 at 7:03 pm
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    Kermit the Frog…. What are you on about…..you really are a Muppet!

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