Newspaper message to readers with ad blocker installed: ‘please disable ad blocker for our site’
StarTribune.com joins the battle against ad blockers with pop-up message to those with browser extension, but tech savvy readers are amused and easily defeat the website effort
The ad blocker wars are heating up. I was a little hesitant to believe that this would really happen (I would link to my story that says that, but think it is probably already outdated).
Is “war” the right term? Maybe it is “battles” because for every media outlet that wants to defeat ad blockers there will be a battle between the publisher and the reader. That’s a problem, isn’t it? After all, if it was a battle between the publisher and malware, or hackers, or someone else, it would be understandable. But this is a battle between the publisher and the person who wants to read their site but has an ad blocker installed on their browser. You never win when you battle your customer (OK, Comcast and a few other companies seem to be doing well in this regard.)
The latest website to start messaging readers with an ad blocker installed is the Star Tribune, Minnesota’s largest daily newspaper. Some readers quickly discovered this and began Tweeting the news. Then programmers looked at the script being used to find out what the paper is doing.
— Tony Webster (@webster) October 1, 2015
I don’t know, being told I’m using an ad blocker and that I must turn it off to access the site feels a bit like going to a site and getting a message that says “you’ve been visiting porn sites lately, haven’t you?” Hey, buddy, its none of your business!
Maybe it’s not that bad – and in any case, you can understand what the paper is thinking: being delivered ads is the price of admission. At StarTribune.com the site does not deliver obnoxious ads (at least none that I can see), and the site is clean and nicely designed (it might seem conservative to some, but I like it), so I am certainly sympathetic.
I think it is fairly easy to defend the newspaper’s efforts, but there are clearly lessons here: first, many web readers are not going to be on the side of the media, just as there are many who defend downloading music outside the normal retail chain, it’s going to happen; second, whatever you try to do from a coding perspective will be discovered quickly, far quicker than you think, don’t try to outsmart the
hackers programmers. 😉
Just as it is pretty easy (if you are tech savvy), to avoid metered paywalls, it is easy to avoid these message scripts. It only took a few minutes of those who saw the original tweet to then tweet out a solution. This going to be a long and messy war, with lots of these individual battles played out. Maybe we should call for the peace conference right now.