Tough sell: Why publisher ‘turn-off-your-ad-blocker’ messages are so polite
For many publishers, ad blocking is outright theft — and they’re mad about it.
But when it comes to explaining to ad-block software users the bargain of free content (it’s free because it comes with ads), they typically tip-toe around the issue, relying, in essence, on “pretty please turn off that ad blocker, if you don’t mind” rather than something more, well, direct.
“Lots of anti-ad-blocking pop-ups read more like a publisher acknowledging defeat than anything persuasive,” said Matt Paddock, general manager at agency Grow. “I’d like to see publishers go further and show a totally honest message that says, ‘While we’re finding other ways to make money, we need to ask for some of yours.’”
To be fair, the politeness has a reason. Many publishers don’t want to lose comScore audience credit or subsequent traffic from shares in social media. But even when publishers take a hard-line stance of denying stories to those with ad blockers, they’re awfully understanding to the point where ad blocking becomes just one big misunderstanding.
Take Wired. When an ad-blocking visitor lands there, the tech publisher is understanding, almost apologizing for the rest of the Internet for driving the user to take the drastic step of downloading an ad blocker, damning all publishers because of the behavior of the worst.
Now, the cynic would say the publisher doth protest just plenty. After all, publishers have for years larded their pages with all manner of tracking pixels, pop-ups, pop-unders, floating ads, autoplay video and other monetizeable atrocities — all in the hope of scoring incremental revenue. One top publisher recently confessed to turning the pop-unders on blast at the end of the quarter to make numbers — a practice that only ended when major browsers blocked the tactics.
It should come as no surprise, then, that publishers are opting for language that carries with it a hint of contrition, as if they are offering a non-apology apology that absolves themselves of any specific wrongdoing while acknowledging wrong was done.
Then there is the always popular guilt trip. Make clear that this isn’t about load time, intrusion or privacy — no, ad blocking is declaring war on journalism itself — and by extension democracy.
The New York Times scrambles for even higher ground, taking a philosophical take on ad blocking that will resonate with many hard-hit publishers, if not actual ethicists.
This is new for the Times, I believe pic.twitter.com/tmJNWboYUx
— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) March 7, 2016
Of course, not all users will be swayed by appealing to their better sides. At that point, publishers often simply look to bargain with ad blockers, in effect promising from now on — honest! — they’ll behave.
Maybe this is best. It treats users as grownups, has a clear message and offers some kind of compromise, even if it’s vague as to what “ad-light” entails.
“Anything overly cute, clever or snarky is likely to make people angry, since they’re already being slapped on the wrist for blocking ads,” said Deacon Webster, chief creative officer of agency Walrus.
Why two brothers are betting on creating new brands and e-commerce to grow their media company
Former Bonnier Corp. CEO Eric Zinczenko is the new COO/president of his brother David Zinczenko's company Galvanized Media.
Member ExclusiveMedia Buying Briefing: Artificial intelligence ‘is gonna ruin the world… and then we adapt’
A look at the different ways artificial intelligence is wending its way into media planning and buying.
Here’s what’s behind the rise of custom algorithms for digital ad decisions
As advertisers ingest more campaign data and demand more control over it, custom algorithms are getting more attention. Here's why.
SponsoredHow the ad industry can use its borrowed time to future-proof first-party data solutions
Trent Lloyd, co-founder and head of brand solutions, Eyeota Google’s updated timeline for its Privacy Sandbox rollout, including its two-year delay of third-party cookie deprecation on Chrome, didn’t come as a surprise to many industry observers, given the limited utility of Google’s FLoC and the slow momentum of the Privacy Sandbox in the World Wide […]
Gannett relaunches CTV streaming channels as ‘home’ for original, long-form videos
Gannett is relaunching its CTV streaming channels with more long-form programming and on additional distribution platforms after a rise in views and time spent watching.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: As student athletes begin signing brand deals, sports publishers want in
Sports publishers are building new franchises that will connect the newly available student athletes with advertisers.