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French Media Takes a Stance on Adblockers - No ads, no Access

     
5:07 pm on Mar 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Members of the French media and publishers are taking a stance against ad blocking, and are joined by music streaming business, Deezer. The message the combined publishers and media organisations are sending out is that users with adblockers will lose access unless the adblockers are removed or disabled.

It's not the first time this has happened as many publishers already stop access, but, in this instance, it's a coalition of publishers which adds strength to the message.

In addition to the websites of numerous French print, radio and television websites, the action was also joined by Deezer, a France-based music streaming service.

In announcing its plans in 2015 to organise joint actions against adblocker software, the Geste trade association said the objective was to remind users that “content and services aren’t free” and emphasise “the indispensible character of advertising as a source of financing”. French Media Takes a Stance on Adblockers - No ads, no Access [theguardian.com]


If you rely on advertising as a revenue stream you have to sympathise. If you're an advertiser you're also going to want this stance to succeed.

Ad blocking is a popular way of eliminating the most annoying of ad-supported sites. In addition, it helps protect users from bad actors that want to deliver a malware payload through their ads.
5:36 pm on Mar 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If their publications are anything like those of English language big media I have not sympathy for them. They ruined it for all of us by having obnoxious ads.
6:12 pm on Mar 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This kind of pushback is inevitable - but if they don't learn anything from the rise of adblockers, and use advertising more responsibly, then we are back to square one.
6:32 pm on Mar 22, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The concerted effort of multiple publishers working in harmony might have a greater effect than some publishers working alone.

Responsible advertising is, without doubt, something that the publishers must tighten up on. Some sites are really awful because of the ads, and I refuse to visit those sites. The content is not that bad, but I don't want to have to struggle to read the information whilst constantly scrolling as the editorial moves around on the screen. Stop it!
9:41 pm on Mar 23, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If their publications are anything like those of English language big media I have not sympathy for them. They ruined it for all of us by having obnoxious ads.


I still call bull on this type of response. If you don't like their ad policy, then don't go to the site. You have no moral right to use their bandwidth and view their content while knowing that you're blocking their source of revenue.

Capitalism is pretty simple. Their ads are obnoxious, people stop going to the site, so they either change the ad format or go out of business.

Ad blockers punish everyone, though, regardless of whether their format is obnoxious. 99.9% of the sites follow all social rules and use acceptable ad formats, and there's no argument that anyone can make to justify blocking their ads.
10:27 pm on Mar 23, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The concerted effort of multiple publishers working in harmony might have a greater effect than some publishers working alone.

Or it could simply give a boost to sites that aren't colluding with the French media establishment, thereby speeding up the market's transition from old media brands to new. Time will tell.
7:59 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I am an AdSense publisher. Google invented the not annoying ads.

I have a list of urls in my windows hosts files,
because many sites are unuseable, because of extreme annoying ads.
8:19 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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You have no moral right to use their bandwidth and view their content while knowing that you're blocking their source of revenue.

Nor does the publisher have a moral right to use MY bandwidth to serve THIRD PARTY (not their own content) over MY BANDWIDTH.

Somebody pays for that delivery, and these days, it is the USER who is denied full access to what they pay for each month because so much of what is delivered is NOT CONTENT. For every Ying there is a Yang.
8:42 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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so you don't like it when a website uses your resources... but you've got no problem removing all the ads and sucking up all their resources
9:12 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Not when that was the original quid quo pro. You put it up, we come. We find you via a search engine you have no contract with since you did not advertise your site directly to us. You need us (so to speak) more than we need you. See how ugly it can get? Not trying to cause a fight, just offering the dialog points so many are saying here, there, and virtually everywhere.

In the meantime, if you INTENDED your site to not be freely accessible it is on YOUR head you did not password protect and require a PAY TO PLAY entry to the site. After all, YOU have full control over that content and who sees it. MEANWHILE, you have the existing tradition of free access to all information (which has been the net since inception) to overcome if you want to be PAID for what you do. (Hopefully, you really have something worth paying for!).

I'm all for monetizing a web site. I do it all the time. I serve my own content, my own ads which I go and find and collect fees direct from the advertiser, and provide associated services, etc. I'm NOT against ads in general. I am against LAZY stupid greed, invasion of privacy, tracking and all those dang cookies (among other left overs) via a plug and play service that does NOT vet their inventory against all-dancing jumping ads, malvertising, and other ills.

Worse, is the average webmaster thinks the only way they can make money is to plaster ads via an ad serving company (and that also includes affiliates and the like) without lifting a finger to generate their OWN income. Sorry guys and gals, that boat sailed some time back and no real wealth can be achieved that way any longer ... income, yes, but not wealth. You are only part of a machine level "got a slot fill it" service that doesn't care what is served as long as they get their cut off the top.

Publishers who think users are too stupid to know these things are in for a rough future. There are better, and more profitable, ways to generate income for a website. It is up to YOU to find that path. Hints and asides are offered here all the time but NO ONE IS GOING TO GIVE YOU A BLUEPRINT. After all, those who can don't want competition ... and that's the Achilles Heel for those using plug and play ad servicing: the competing websites who dilute the ad spend into the "machine". Ten thousand walls can earn more than a Couple A Billion walls (why do you think income is measured in multiple 1k increments and fractions of a cent for some types of ad serving?)

Sorry for the rant. I know the pain as I have been there done that and some time back took a different path because the handwriting was on the wall. I think everyone can do that, but it appears few are willing.

Having said that, there are certain circumstances, certain sites, and certain niches that still generate tremendous ad revenue under the existing paradigm. I sincerely hope all of you guys and gals are in that category. I suspect that those who ARE there are the ones to keep their mouths shut. :)
9:21 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Morals aside, the publishers have a right to deny access to their sites to anyone they choose.
Some publications have been behind a paywall for many years supported by their subscribers. They can do it because they originate, and create unique content.
For most of us the ad-supported model is a good thing, but it has its place, and, as I said before, publishers need to look at themselves to ensure they are not driving people away with overzealous advertising: For some sites it's a race to the bottom.

I have been monitoring sites that have taken a stance by adblockers and there are more and more now presenting a message that advertising pays for the site. Can these sites succeed in changing reader views?

This program by the French media is an interesting one because of the concerted effort.

It'd be rearly interesting to get the stats on the success or failure of these programmes.
9:32 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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^100% engine. One side of what I said and spot on. :)

publishers have a right to deny access to their sites to anyone they choose


And users have the right to find content offered in search engines ... and if denied, click back and try the other 200 or so options.

In the instant case French Media the end results will drive the future ... provided the results are shared.
10:53 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Morals aside, the publishers have a right to deny access to their sites to anyone they choose.

This has always been my position. It's my content, not yours. It costs me time and money to produce it. You are welcome to use it, but on my terms, not yours. If you turn up with an adblocker you've got two options: disable/whitelist and come on in, or leave and find similar content elsewhere. There isn't an option where you lecture me about your rights or my responsibilities.

I hope the old media sites who deny access to adblockers understand why adblockers came to be a thing. If they don't adapt and become more responsible with their advertising then this particular business model is well and truly doomed (if it isn't already).
11:22 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I hope the old media sites who deny access to adblockers understand why adblockers came to be a thing. If they don't adapt and become more responsible with their advertising then this particular business model is well and truly doomed (if it isn't already).


I think that's starting to happen. My sense is that some of the worst offenders--I'm talking to you Slate &Salon--are toning it down. Slate tried charging overseas subscribers a fee after five free articles but apparently it didn't work out well as the plan was quietly withdrawn after a few months. I like their content but not enough to pay for it. So I'm occasionally annoyed by their ads? So what.
11:25 am on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Let me pose this question, which I raised a while back. Could ad-supported products and services have had their day? [webmasterworld.com]

I also think that adblockers, of some types, are a business model, and re-sell their own advertising. This used to be know as browser hijacking. Has it become legitimate?
2:47 pm on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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looks like my last reply here just disappeared. No idea why, seems to happen a lot these days.

@engine, ad supported products and services will not disappear, but they are likely to change a lot. Ads served from the same server as the content, lighter ads, probably other things.

It also depends on what services. Ads work well on a plain content site. They do not work as well as part of a service you use regularly - subscriptions make more sense for those in my view, but people are used to free of charge services on siren servers.....
2:50 pm on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Slate tried charging overseas subscribers a fee after five free articles but apparently it didn't work out well as the plan was quietly withdrawn after a few months.


The FT charges after a few free articles a month, and people pay. The New Scientist is subscribers only. I have bought a subscription to History Today as a present, and will buy one to the London Review of Books for myself. You need content that is worth paying for, for that approach to work, though.....
6:59 pm on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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You need content that is worth paying for, for that approach to work, though.....

Also, there are many kinds of sites that don't lend themselves to paywalls because people use them irregularly.

For example, if I'm worried about a gurgling in my basement boiler, I might go to a site with service information about boilers, but I probably won't revisit the site until my boiler acts up again. And if I'm planning a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Outer Widgetonia, I probably won't go to visitouterwidgetonia dot com ever again after I've taken my trip.
11:59 pm on Mar 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The subscription model might work for old media gone online, like newspapers and magazines. It may work for educational sites who can sell them to schools, colleges or students. It's not going to work for the bulk of informational or review sites, for the reasons EditorialGuy has outlined above.
1:40 pm on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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EditorialGuy, both of those sites you describe do not need paywall in the first place.

If your boiler acts up, you go to look up service information about the boiler, this site is sponsored in some way or other by whoever makes, sells or services the boiler, for various reasons.

In a similar way, VisitOuterWidgetonia dot com will likely be sponsored by their government (from taxes) or their hotels, depending on how developed and how important their tourist industry is.

In both cases, sites are not the prime source of income, which is producing actual material things or services.
5:38 pm on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Also, there are many kinds of sites that don't lend themselves to paywalls because people use them irregularly.


When I first started publishing online - there was no real business model - it was years before AdSense, and the first affiliate programs were just getting underway.

I assumed that micropayment would come along and be our main source of revenue - sadly, that never happened, but we did very well out of AdSense and affiliate programs instead.

I still think a micropayment system could work - provided there was a common system (like AdSense) which would be adopted by thousands of sites.

Perhaps all those who object so strongly to ads would be willing to pay a penny or two for each page view on sites they enjoy. Or perhaps they just want everything for free, but only on their terms.
11:40 pm on Mar 25, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Several interesting points in so few posts!

1. sites have always had the right to allow and disallow within the laws and regulations of their jurisdictions.
This means not only that one can require javascript to view some or all of a page but to block bots entirely or in part or to block folks using ad blockers (that you can identify) or that use IE or etc. ad nauseum.

2. visitors have always had the right to view your page/site as they want within constraints most of which you have no control over and probably no knowledge whether invoked.
Historically this usually meant a custom CSS (or no style at all) but could be a custom anything that can be DOM adjusted; they request, you send, they view as they set.
The stripping of all but main content is not new. It has simply gone from personal scripting to browser add-on or app to built in feature. And most webdevs never noticed.

And guess what? There is no conflict between the two.
The webdev gets to decide whether to share (by whatever criteria) with the corollary of what to share (by whatever criteria), the visitor gets to manipulate and render what is shared (by whatever criteria).

It has always been thus. The recent uptake in ad blockers hasn't changed a thing, except the noise level.


What a coordinated effort by a large enough regional/national/language group to deny access to ad blocking browsers will have as a result will be interesting to watch. I bought extra popcorn.

As has been mentioned by others perhaps the most fascinating bit will be what each side learns and how each side adjusts. And if it spreads. Rinse, Repeat.


Perhaps the biggest hurdle to change is that third party ad networks have been so easy and simple to utilise. Very little thinking, pretty much copy and paste. Unfortunately the ad networks, to scale cheaply, minimise verification and oversight of advertisers (especially) and publishers resulting in all sorts of misbehaviours on both sides that irritate (many) and harm (some) visitors.

And the ad networks have so far refused to accept any responsibility not court required or to change that which is driving visitors to ad blockers. Remember that Google's answer to Ad Block (Plus) was to buy whitelisting. Which puts neither the ad blocker company nor the ad network company in a good light. It also merits the question: if one gives in to apparent extortion is it really extortion? Or is it blackmail because you want to keep your dirty little secrets secret? Neither is nice but the difference is important in that in the first one is bad, the other a victim; in the second both are nasty.

And to counter this latest ad blocker take up Google is again not changing a thing; instead they are attempting an end run via AMP. Whose ads can (mostly/all currently) also be blocked, so am waiting on that to become widespread so that I can enjoy their explanation. :)


@engine and "Ad-Supported Products and Services: Has it Had its Day"
Of course not.
What might be heading for crisis are the third party ad networks.
Unless they take more responsibility and control - and consider offering an API for publisher ad serving - I suspect they have peaked.

I sell ad space. None of the ads are on content pages. And the ad pages are SE blocked.
The same for my affiliate pre-sell pages.
All that exists on content pages are links to the ad/af pages.
Except for those pages without such links: they have AdSense.
And it's been that way for over a decade.

If a visitor comes with ad blocker they get to read and view exactly what those without do; except that they miss the AdSense on ~10% of pages. As they were unlikely to click such an ad anyway and that AdSense is far far back in third as a revenue source I don't sweat them at all.

Since this latest ad blocker furor began I've been getting much more interest in buying my ad space. So I've upped my rates. Again. :)



@7_Driver: yup, I've been expecting a micropayment system for over a decade. It could be a game changer when/if it ever arrives. But I've stopped holding my breath.
8:01 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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...As they were unlikely to click such an ad anyway...


This is not my experience, by any means. From my experience, the WIDE majority of people using ad blockers don't even realize they're doing it. Most of them picked up a spyware from somewhere, and instead of removing the spyware, some well-meaning friend, family member, or the genius at the computer repair shop installed an ad blocker.

I started showing affiliate banners to people that use ad blockers, served locally. Surprisingly, they get about the same click-through rate as my Google ads; maybe marginally lower, but not by much. This leads me to believe that most people would HAPPILY click on the ads, they just don't realize that they're blocking them.
8:12 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Some sites start advertising videos, as soon as I come to the site.
I close this sites immedeately, too annoyig.
8:50 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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the WIDE majority of people using ad blockers don't even realize they're doing it. Most of them picked up a spyware from somewhere, and instead of removing the spyware, some well-meaning friend, family member, or the genius at the computer repair shop installed an ad blocker.

That means the user found their system working screwy, asked a wiser head to fix it. Then asked what happened, and that wiser head replied. then user asks how can I prevent that? And there you are.

That explains how SOME get to ad blockers. That does not explain the world wide phenom of users in all countries doing the same. What does explain that is abusive ad practices and for some countries/people invasive privacy concerns.

I have folks ask me why the internet costs so much. Huh? I ask. I keep getting upcharged each month for exceeding my billing. Install an ad blocker I reply and voila! their budgeted quota returns to normal. And in that question is the underlying which advertisers, publishers and webmasters don't take into consideration:

The user pays for internet access, they bought a device (sometimes expensive to do so) and expect results. To their thinking they have already "paid" for that content and continue to do so monthly. It is no surprise when the worm turns (knowing that ads are third party and not the site they intended to visit) they take matters into their own hands.

Plus the fact that malicious (malvertising) ads are on the upswing, rotating in and out, and difficult to trace and can appear ANYWHERE on ANY SITE that being proactive to avoid that is commonsense.

Other reality is that the pay to play sites STILL plaster their sites with ads ticks off more than a few users and they will talk to their friends, and those to their friends....

I suspect ti will take government regulation (as it did for radio and tv), particularly now that in the USA the internet has been redefined as a Title II Utility instead of the previous Wild West Wide Open Marketplace. The more Publishers and Users complain, the more likely the FCC will take that into consideration and get the FTC involved.

Beware what you weep for. :)
8:59 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I myself copy my windows hosts file on other computers.
My hosts files is a list of the most annoying ad sources in Austria.

Most sites are unuseable without this hosts sites, because direct beside or above the text flash messages.
9:31 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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That means the user found their system working screwy, asked a wiser head to fix it.

Well they asked someone who recommended an adblocker. We'll leave the question of their wisdom in abeyance.

I think the recent upswing in adblock usage was driven more by site UI and loading times than concern about malvertising or bandwidth wastage. The average user was impressed that he/she could access a cleanskin version of his/her favourite site, in quick time, without being held up by ad loads or obfuscatory layouts. Most of the positive comment on social media / forums was along those lines. Whether their love affair with adblockers continues, or continues to broaden, remains to be seen.
11:17 am on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I assumed that micropayment would come along and be our main source of revenue


Penny clicks from AdSense are not micropayments?

I remember posting here about 12 years ago that realistically AdSense publishers were the first global recipients of micropayments. EFV would back me up on that:-)
1:42 pm on Mar 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I started showing affiliate banners to people that use ad blockers, served locally. Surprisingly, they get about the same click-through rate as my Google ads; ...
That's an interesting insight. thanks.
.
3:39 am on Mar 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Don't forget about another problem denial of access creates, for search engines

Just today I visited a link in Google to a page on a widely read site and was left staring at a blank page because of my ad/tracking blocker. I backpaged instantly and took mental note not to return. I also, however, took the time to check what caused the blocker to kick in and found that the page had 21 different tracking urls involved, mostly from different ad serving and metrics collecting companies. It wasn't even actual ads on the page that filtered the site, it was the sheer volume of tracking(I allow ads, but not more than one tracking source per ad). Consider removal of as much tracking, especially 3rd party ad tracking, as you can before blocking the blockers. It might just be that it's your tracking and not just the ads they want to stop. Example: Watch a youtube vid and every 5 seconds multiple trackers says "are you watching now? How about now?" to the tune of 100 per minute!?

If you give too many search visitors a bad experience you will suffer in rankings so consider not being so draconian if the referrer is a valid search engine.
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