September 11, 2015 Last Updated 7:32 am

The games bad web publishers play lead will likely lead to more readers using ad blockers

Morning Brief: Niche Media and Modern Luxury rumored to be considering merger; Great American Media Services acquires two B2B titles in the horticultural industry from Scranton Gillette

The ad of ad blocking may be upon us, but there is still a feeling that many publishers really don’t understand why readers are so revolted by web advertising.

Houstonauto-FreepMaybe a look at the Gannett newspapers would be enough. This morning, while attempted to read a story on the website for the Detroit Free Press on the resignation of two state legislators, I was assaulted by a large auto-play video. The video advertisement was for the Houston area Honda dealer association. A Detroit website delivering to a reader in Chicago an auto ad for buying a Honda in Houston, Texas. Lovely.

The ad is coming in from an ad network, so it is not as if some ad exec in Detroit is pushing the wrong button, but readers are not going to be aware of this, they will only know that they must rush to press the mute button on their computer whenever visiting a Gannett website to avoid irrelevant, obnoxious ads.

But Gannett is an extreme example, a company that requires the same look throughout their chain which means there will be no good ideas allowed to flow up the command chain.

WaPo-adblockRecently The Washington Post began displaying a message box on its site when visiting it with an ad blocker installed. I know this because I visited a half dozen advertising industry websites writing about the phenomenon, each delivering a pop-up ad on the story. I can tell you that visiting those sites such as AdAge with an ad blocker installed was far more pleasant.

WaPo-paywallThe Post probably didn’t like the negative publicity they were receiving so have substituted the ad blocker message for one that simply requires the reader to submit an email address to proceed. It’s a good trade-off in theory, but one that is a bit dishonest. After all, even after one has registered the reader will eventually run into their paywall. Of course, most frequent readers of newspaper websites know all about how to circumvent the barrier.

Publishers won’t have much time to adjust to ad blockers as their use is bound to increase. The release of iOS 9, contrary to some reports, will not immediately lead to more ad blocker usage. Users of Safari will still need to install the ad blockers, and probably only a minority will do so. But websites visited by more tech savvy readers will be the first to be hit.

Look for there to be a mini tech war breaking out as ad networks and publishers look for ways to disable the ad blockers, or lessen their impact. Also expect the paywall vendors to get more aggressive as they push paid content strategies. It could be a wild 2016, and I expect that by the time we get to fall planning of that year the issue of the impact of ad blockers may be a point of discussion between media buyers and their reps.

Riviera-cover-300Keith Kelly of the New York Post is reporting a rumor that the publishers Niche Media and Modern Luxury may be looking to merge (ignore that giant pop-up ad at the top). Although both companies deny the rumors, Kelly’s sources are pretty good, or at least they have been occasionally in the past.

Both publishers target wealthy readers with free magazines filled with attractive, young models. I receive one of these publications myself, which makes you wonder about the accuracy of their targeting (hey, I’m a publisher, you don’t want to waste a copy on me).

Any merger would be designed to limit competition in the space, but one wonders if another competitor might immediately pop-up (what with wealth being concentrated into fewer households in many western countries).

Great American Media Services, based in Sparta, Michigan, announced yesterday that it has acquired two magazines and two events from Scranton Gillette Communications. The two magazines, Greenhouse Product News and Lawn & Garden Retailer, with join the new owners agricultural magazines which include Fruit Growers News and Produce Processing, along with two others.

GPN-cover-150“We’re very excited to introduce these industry-leading publications, events and top-notch team to our growing business,” Matt McCallum, CEO of Great American Media Services said in the company’s announcement. “With a strong foundation already established in both the retail and agriculture industries, these new assets are the ideal complement to our existing publications and services. We look forward to creating exciting new opportunities among them for the benefit of the customers and the industries they serve.”

Greenhouse Product News has a BPA audited circulation of just over 19,000 and for years was at the center of a lawsuit between SGC and one of its arch rivals, though that whole episode is now ancient history (disclose: I was the publisher of a couple SGC-owned trade magazines from 1995 to 2000).

“While we shift our focus to continued growth and the various other industries we serve, we’re pleased to transition this business to a company we’re confident will uphold the high-quality editorial standards and excellent customer service that our readers and advertisers have come to rely on,” said Ed Gillette, SGC’s president and CEO.

Scranton Gillette Communications, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois, continues to publish B2B magazines in the construction, water, home furnishings, and other markets.

There were absolutely no media app updates in my iTunes account this morning. Apple will be releasing iOS 9 next Wednesday, so this situation will likely to not be repeated often in the weeks and months to come.

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