February 9, 2016 Last Updated 9:02 am

WIRED’s ad-free website for ad-blockers users to require a paid subscription

For $1 a week, web readers will be able to access a new ad-free website; but what print magazine subscribers who also use a browser with an ad blocker, will they be forced to pay twice?

The ad blocker, that extension that is driving media executives crazy, is gaining enough traction that some publishers are willing to do crazy things such as create rude pop-ups when the site encounters a readers using an ad blocker. Or even creating an alternative website where readers using ad blockers are sent.

That is what the Condé Nast magazine WIRED plans to do.

Wired magazine websiteIn a note to readers, the magazine’s editors said the now one in five online readers are using an ad blocker, seriously endangering the magazine’s business model.

“We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it’s important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going: paying the writers, editors, designers, engineers, and all the other staff that works so hard to create the stories you read and watch here,” the magazine said.

So, the editors propose one of two possible solutions for readers: adding WIRED to the list of websites that their ad blocker will ignore, or begin paying for access.

The way they will do this is by creating a new paywalled website, built just for readers who use ad blockers. Readers will get changed $1 a week for access.

The experiment will test just how loyal those web readers really are. I think the editors are in for a shock.

For one thing, soon they will start hearing from their print subscribers who use ad blockers. These readers will not be happy that they are paying to subscribe to print magazine but forced again to pay up to access an ad-free website.

Then there will be those readers who simply go away.

Is the experiment worth trying? Yes, even though I am skeptical of the changes of success.

But the editors have failed to really address the issue readers have, that these magazine websites are so to load, filled with obnoxious advertising, and really are not providing readers a good product. Imagine if every full page of editorial content in the print magazine contained a small ad placed in the middle of the page? No designer would do that, yet online all the rules of good editing are ignored in pursuit of incremental digital ad revenue.

Sadly, this isn’t the only editorial move the magazine has made recently that has readers upset. Wired recently eliminated the landscape mode from its digital edition. The move is not surprising as many other magazines did this long ago, but Wired remained an exception.

WIRED was the true test case for digital edition apps. First launched in May of 2010, by June the magazine could brag that the app had been downloaded over 100,000 times. When the Newsstand was introduced in late 2011, it also was one of the first magazines to brag about its numbers.

But digital subscriptions for the magazine are now actually lower today than they were reported to be in 2012. There are a lot of reasons for this, most of which can be traced back to Apple’s policies. Nonetheless, many proponents were pretty sure that by now the magazine could claim 100K digital subscribers, and it can’t.

“At WIRED, we believe that change is good,” WIRED’s editors said. “Over the past 23 years, we’ve pushed the boundaries of media, from our print magazine to launching the first publishing website. We even invented the banner ad. We’re going to continue to experiment to find new ways to bring you the stories you love and to build a healthy business that supports the storytelling. We hope you’ll join us on this journey. We’d really appreciate it.”

Readers, I’m sure, appreciate the sentiment…except that part about inventing the banner ad. That part would have been better left unsaid.

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