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New York Times Experiments With Ways to Fight Ad Blocking

Old grey lady's attempts

     
9:12 am on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I just read an interesting article re: the Old grey lady's latest adblocking attempts

The New York Times Begins Testing Ad Blocking Approaches [adage.com]

[edited by: martinibuster at 1:27 pm (utc) on Mar 8, 2016]
[edit reason] Added link to a news report. [/edit]

10:33 am on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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New York Times Experiments With Ways to Fight Ad Blocking [wsj.com]
On Monday morning, some visitors to the Times’ website who had ad blocking tools enabled were greeted with a message stating “The best things in life aren’t free.”

[...]

The company also plans to explore technology-based solutions to counteract the effect of ad blockers, and is also considering legal avenues, the spokeswoman said.

“The goal is to inform users of the harm of ad blocking and to encourage the whitelisting of nytimes.com. Ad blockers do not serve the long term interest of consumers. The creation of quality news content is expensive and digital advertising is one way that The New York Times and other high quality news providers fund news gathering operations,” the New York Times spokeswoman wrote in an email.
11:23 am on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This is very similar to Forbes' adblocking stance.

I wonder if it'll pick up steam amongst the other publications.

Legal avenues are only going to earn $ for the lawyers, imho.
11:45 am on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I can't say I'm surprised. I expect we'll see a lot more of this as time goes on.
11:45 am on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I just tried the ny times and it is a joke. Tried to read an article and the first 2 clicks took me to the ad that was trying to load, the third click took me to the article which froze my tablet. If they truly consider their content to be valuable then first they need to start treating their content as valuable. When they trash their site then their site becomes trash.
12:54 pm on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I applaud the NYTimes for what they're doing and hope they take it all the way. I'm also glad they're exploring legal options.

But I also agree with toidi. Most news sites are crammed with a ridiculous amount of beacons, tracking scripts, popups, scripts for paid "related content" and video ad scripts. They should tone it down and raise the cost of advertising to cover the difference. Focus on improving the user experience. The NYTimes is not competing against anyone but itself and it's losing the fight.
1:05 pm on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Oddly enough (running ad block plus and NoScript) I just visited the site and got a "normal" experience. Normal in that there were broad areas of white space (where ads might live), divs that were floating here, there and everywhere, but the content was there. Only thing allowed was googleapis (else the menus wouldn't work), though I could STILL read everything just by killing ALL STYLES (ff, no style) and the links worked just great. A site would need more draconian measures to prevent visitors from viewing their content on the USER'S terms.
6:22 pm on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Oddly enough (running ad block plus and NoScript) I just visited the site and got a "normal" experience. Normal in that there were broad areas of white space (where ads might live), divs that were floating here, there and everywhere, but the content was there.

I only read NYT once in awhile. Ditto here. Taking two articles at random:

1. What We’re Watching as 4 States Vote and Both Parties Court Michigan
That gave me the whole article, photographs and a lot of white space.

2. Netanyahu Calls Off Obama Visit, and Fingers Point
This article gave me a complete white page, with only the complete article.

Refreshing - I have no problem with the ads, just the wholly unnecessary intrusions.
6:37 pm on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I have no problems with display or text ads and don't block them. But there should be a way to completely wipe out those "Suggested links" blocks from history of human kind. What a load of rubbish and I can't understand why companies that claim to want to give visitors a good experience sell their space to low quality/spam/scam ads that pay peanuts.
6:46 pm on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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But I also agree with toidi. Most news sites are crammed with a ridiculous amount of beacons, tracking scripts, popups, scripts for paid "related content" and video ad scripts.


I've noticed a lot of the tech blogs are bad about popups also.

Also some obnoxious social media thing that follows you wherever you scroll (can't even remember what they call that at the moment).
9:30 pm on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I applaud the NYTimes for what they're doing and hope they take it all the way. I'm also glad they're exploring legal options.
I agree, however the pop-up notice failed terribly for my main site. It increased bounce rate so after 2 months I removed it. I'll let the big guys make the imperative.
10:28 pm on Mar 8, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Why not put bogus CSS classes on your content that make it sound like it's an ad (ex: class="content banner-ad-350x200"), that way people with adblockers won't see it and they will have to whitelist the site to view the content. If enough big publishers do this, it might discourage people from using adblockers altogether.

On the other hand, as someone who do not use adblockers, I find often news sites to be borderline abusive with ads/trackers/etc which slow down their site to a crawl and ruin the user experience.
3:59 am on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I do have some sympathy for all those sites that are up in arms about ad blocking visitors as I too rely on ads for a majority of income.

BUT

Too many of them are in the rather foolish position of (the following is a metaphor, OK?) having shot themselves in the foot then whining about it and blaming everyone but themselves. They created such a miserable user experience that their visitors went out of their way to improve it. Ad blockers require a deliberate decision and deliberate actions by their users. What is forgotten in all the media angst is that people so wanted to read those sites' content that they found a method that made doing so bearable. They could have much more easily and simply never come back.

In some ways these sites sound just like the music industry who have been fighting for a vanished status quo for two decades. Yes, it costs to create good content; yes, said producers should be compensated. However, treating customers as the enemy is not exactly a sane response.

That huge media sites have defaulted to third party ad networks is not a surprise - enterprise loves the concept of outsourcing. That it has blatantly obvious costs seems to always bite the penny pinchers by surprise. In the current mess each page load is up to hundreds of separate javascript calls to dozens of ad networks, tracking firms, etc. that bog things, jitter things, pop things, and thoroughly irritate their mobile visitors while simultaneously transferring the not insignificant costs of delivery onto them.

Toss in that the ad networks, in order to keep costs down, do not vet advertisers so that ads are now a major malware vector...

And they have the ignorant incompetent idiocy to blame their visitors for finding a way have a safe and pleasant stay? That they are NOT providing? Indeed, going to great effort to not provide.

Ad blockers are a symptom of a serious problem. Focussing on treating aka fighting the symptom does not make the underlaying problem go away.

Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding;
which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not
---Jeremiah 5:21, King James Version


You've made your bed, now lie in it.
Or get your pita up and fix what you made such a mess.

A pox on all their [sic] houses.

:)
11:53 am on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Is there a free newspaper without ads? Internet has become a place where everyone is looking for something free. And that's ok occasionally, but blocking ads just because you don't want to see ads is irresponsible. Do you cut the ads in the newspaper with scissors? Do they annoy you? Do you cover your TV with blanket when ads are displated? I agree that no one wants to browse a website with more ads then content. No one wants to browse a website with ads floating all over the page deceiving visitors to click on them while 5 pop up windows will open wherever you click. But, the majority of websites you are visiting are sticking to the major ad networks and their strict rules so they don't turn their website into an ads heaven. And yes, most of them don't look bad having not more that 3 ads per page, perhaps sponsored contend at the end. If you are looking for a pirated software, nulled scripts, "free" mp3 that are not free to download, life streaming that you are trying to watch for free and it isn't and all the other illegal activities on internet.... then you will enter in the world of ad mess, malware etc... How come I have never installed a single ad blocker and never ran into problems like this? Or is it you installing those plugins for defending your self against your illegal activities on internet? A descent internet visitor will never have the need of installing this kind of plugins. And YES, the search engines and the social websites (the main source for traffic to any website) must find a way to punish those websites, but the average internet reader must show some respect for the publishers.Those ads that you are blocking are for most of us the only source of income that allows us to continue with what we are doing. If you all block the ads then 99% of the publishers will quit doing it and you will end up reading state propaganda and corporation articles only. The internet is the greatest contributor to the freedom of speech and you will destroy that. And then you will realize what you have done but it will be too late. The websites you are visiting aren't free to run. I'm paying more than 100 USD per month to run my website, to serve my visitors trying to deliver good and genuine content and you are blocking the only source of income i have. I do not sell anything on my website except for content, and that content is free for all of you. No one is forcing anyone to click on the ads. If you find them attractive and related to your interests than you can click on them and I will make a penny so I can continue to work. It's simple like that.
12:52 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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And that's ok occasionally, but blocking ads just because you don't want to see ads is irresponsible

HAHA

But then we have something that is called "user tracking". DO we want that? Do I want that, Does any one that runs a site want that?

I pay for NYT subscription, for my Dad, Hard Copy, Printed, Delivered.

I have not seen any Ads, cause I am an avid AdBlocker, so is my Dad, so is Everyone who trusts me to put my hands on their Computer/Device.

What is "irresponsible" has been abused by .... NYT included, Big time. Does not work that way anymore or less.

Why do I have to be redirected to a next Article when I just read the first 3 sentences of a current one and trying to read the 4th on on a mobile device?

Anybody?
1:29 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If I understood correct you are trying to say that you are paying for NYT subscription and that's why there are no ads? If that's the case than this is perfectly OK. For a moment let's forget about NYT and all the other major media corporations and focus on us, the average site owners and the effect that ad blocking has on the freedom of speech combined with our struggle to survive on the global market. I do not approve all the steps NYT is taking to combat ad blocking. I have only 2 Google Ads per page on my website and as I said those 2 ads are the only income I have form my site. And yes, I still think that blocking ads is irresponsible, egoistic way of behavior not respecting the owner of the property you are visiting. To be more precise, it's like entering in a gallery or a museum and there's free entry and yet you are destroying all the charity boxes left if someone wants to donate.
3:20 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Is there a free newspaper without ads?


Probably not but the ads in a newspaper or magazine don't jump out in front of what you're reading or shuffle the pages around or take you somewhere you didn't want to go because of an errant mouse click or hover.

Compare the Times home page (viewed in a standard Firefox window) with the same page viewed in a Firefox Private Browsing window. There are some significant differences. I know that Adsense doesn't work on my sites when pages are viewed in Private Browsing so, in effect, Firefox offers built-in ad blocking to a degree. Hate to say it, but I use private browsing to get a better experience out of most major news site, It's not perfect but I prefer it to installing an ad blocker or encouraging others to do so.
3:53 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The better comparison is between ads on a website and ads on tv. You know how when you're watching a movie and in the middle of it comes a commercial break? I hate that. It's seriously disruptive to the movie-watching experience on TV. But I can't do anything about it no matter how much better the movie is without commercial breaks because I'm watching a movie for free.
4:42 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Comparison to radio, tv, or newspapers is kind of silly. They have a recognized business model and the advertising goes directly to the radio, tv, or newspaper ... and they generated all those ads themselves. Also, for radio and tv, there are rules and regulations regarding the amount, frequency, and duration of advertising per hour/segment. The users/viewers know this and accept is as necessary for the "free content" they consume.

The web is different. Content is seeking ads, not the other way around. Ads don't vet or care about the content, and having no interest in content, have no respect (or restraint) in how they advertise. Secondary, good content v less than good content is treated the same, thus krap ads appear everywhere. Worse, all the tracking, beacons, and other invasive aspects of web advertising is completely different than the "old ways" of radio, tv, and print media. Users do have a right to privacy, and sometimes it is as simple as "do not accept third party content" (ie, what is not on the domain visited), denying js, or private browsing (all of which are in browsers) or taking it up a notch and install script blockers and ad blockers.

In recent years the ad bloat WHICH IS NOT THE WEBSITE has become extreme and not only are users feeling the pain, but the isps are as well.

Advertising is one way to defray costs of operation or developing an income stream. It is a valid and reasonable business model. However, advertising as it currently exists is breaking not only net operations but user trust, and rewards krap sites equally with great sites... and because of that, and the tracking and invasion of privacy, it's no wonder the users have taken action.

And the fact that every tom, dick, and harry have jumped on the web seeking fortunes with whatever they can throw against the wall has devalued the advertising market by having too many fingers in the pie.

The web is not an egalitarian work space. Never has been, but when advertising treats it as such, the web (and the users) suffer.
5:31 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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A descent internet visitor will never have the need of installing this kind of plugins.


Then you have been extremely fortunate! I now use the new Firefox blocking after I went to a website, a TV guide, and saw just how good and fast the site was without ads, there was a massive difference.

Interestingly this site has got around my ad blocking in a very simple way, precisely the same that I do, they serve the ads themselves instead of pulling in stuff from all over the place. It's not quite as fast as being ad free however it's far, far better than it was.

So NYT, why don't you try serving the ads yourselves and experience what your average user does instead of dragging the Net to a grinding halt?
5:37 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Whatever works for ad blocking should also work for search engines, imo.

Dear Google/Bing/Yahoo: The best things in life aren't free(anymore). We've detected your wholesale use of our content without actually sending us visitors. Please support us in one of the following ways.

- Stop displaying our content as your feedback and knowledge
- Subscribe to us
- Pay a fee per image copied into your image gallery
- Restore SERPs so that the #1 position is no longer below a desktop fold, ever
- Etc, we're all ears and open to ideas that are mutually beneficial

Regards
The webmaster who is working twice the hours for half the revenue while you drown in quarterly cash
6:46 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think a lot of these ships have sailed, and they aren't going back to the harbor.
11:56 pm on Mar 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Related:
The Interactive Advertising Bureau is ready to make a DEAL with people who use ad-blockers:

Detect ad-blocking, “in order to initiate a conversation”

Explain the “value exchange that advertising enables”

Ask for “changed behavior,” that, to disable the ad-blocker, to maintain an “equitable exchange”

Lift restrictions or Limit access in response to “consumer choice”
source: [motherboard.vice.com...]
12:12 am on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Just had a pop up at wired demanding $52.00 a year or white listing. A site I visit twice a week also has nineteen (19) trackers and ad services and fb, too. Well, that bookmark has been deleted. :) Now have time to visit other sites with the same information.
1:06 am on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau is ready to make a DEAL with people who use ad-blockers

That's essentially what it comes down to: either asking visitors nicely to disable their adblocker - or manipulating your content so that it can't be viewed if an adblocker is activated.

The only problem is that a sizeable portion of adblock users have been convinced (or convinced themselves) that all ads are evil. No matter what you say or how you say it, they'll happily use 10 pages of your content while not loading a single ad.

As regulars may remember, I've been preventing adblock users from accessing my sites by redirecting users to a landing page and asking for a DEAL. Coincidentally, I've had a staggering amount of hate mail in this period, some of it quite foul.

Small publishers like us find themselves trapped between large news/buzzfeed style companies with no responsible advertising practice and self-entitled adblock users who think that their right to free stuff trumps your right to make a living.
4:48 am on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The only problem is that a sizeable portion of adblock users have been convinced (or convinced themselves) that all ads are evil. No matter what you say or how you say it, they'll happily use 10 pages of your content while not loading a single ad.


Well, if the NYTimes were bold enough, they could serve up a buzzfeed / 4chan version of the news and inform their readers that this is what quality journalism is when you block revenue sources.
5:23 am on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think a lot of these ships have sailed, and they aren't going back to the harbor.

True, Google has enough data not to need websites anymore. They built their island with our content already.

Back to ad blockers, The solution the New York Times is taking only works if top key destinations online all band together. A single site won't cause enough people to turn off their ad blockers, but if people are continually needing to turn it off to do what they want to do it has a better chance of staying off.

And that's what I want to get at, should the NYTimes be asking for white listing or should they take the fight deeper and ask for the blocking to be turned off? A whitelist helps them but not the effort in general while turning ad blockers off helps all sites.
6:47 am on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Turning off is not going to happen. Whitelisting, maybe ... but the site had better be worth it and most aren't, if folks are honest about the offerings on the web.
3:32 pm on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Adblockers were created to battle the hugely spammed content websites. Sadly battling the "bad websites" the good websites suffered as well, in the millions. I do not wish to blame Google, but if they had <insert animal name here> filter that blocked all websites with more than two ads above the fold and more than 4 ads per page, the internet would be a very very different and frankly better place.

Don't blame the users for inventing and using something to block spam, bait-clicks, forced redirects, pop-up ads and the rest of the BS created by money hungry publishers.
7:35 pm on Mar 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Don't blame the users for inventing and using something to block spam, bait-clicks, forced redirects, pop-up ads and the rest of the BS created by money hungry publishers

Many of us have been saying the same thing for a long time. Common-sense and simply seeking out "user experience" have yet to penetrate the upper echelons of corporate advertising.

Your money hungry publishers - with made for AdSense sites - will simply move along to the next opportunity when this model no longer remains viable. Existing informative content sites will continue/resume business with affiliate programmes to their pay costs.
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