City AM has become the first media outlet in the UK to stop people using ad blockers from viewing content on its website.
The financial publication has launched a new offence against ad blocking software that will blur out the text in its articles if a user is detected to be using the browser extensions.
It marks the first time that a UK publication has taken such measures against the use of the software and follows on from similar measures undertaken by a number of leading US media publications.
Desktop readers using ad block software on Firefox browsers will now encounter a message upon opening the daily financial freesheet’s website which reads: “We are having trouble showing you adverts on this page, which may be a result of ad blocker software being installed on your device. As City AM relies on advertising to fund its journalism, please disable any adblockers from running on cityam.com to see the rest of this content.”
City AM’s digital director, Martin Ashplant, said if the trial is successful it will be rolled out to other browser types and non-desktop devices such as mobile and tablets.
Ashplant said the company would “see what the impact is and how many choose to turn ad blocking software off, and how many bounce from the site versus the normal rate”.
He added that the trial was a “‘see how it goes’ plan but the strategy is we want to roll it out further quite quickly”.
Around 8 per cent of the site’s 1.2 million monthly browsers use Firefox on desktop and roughly 20 per cent of those visitors use ad blocking software.
The measures being taken will also look to reason with readers through a link to a Q&A page which will explain the harm ad blockers cause to the industry and why the ban has been introduced. It will also give instructions on how to turn of ab block and provide a feedback form to gain an insight into how the scheme is being received.
Ashplant said that as an ad-funded organisation, City AM survived on adverts and he hoped that by “making it clear to people that ad blocking hurts our ability to do this they will choose to turn ad blockers off on cityam.com, even if they decide to continue using them elsewhere”.
City AM’s move against the software is part of an accelerating industry trend to save crucial ad revenue by implementing measures to deter users from blocking ads. Last week, German publisher Axel Springer began banning readers who use adblockers from its Bild tabloid website and in the US the Washington Post now intermittently redirects readers using ad block to a subscription page asking them to sign up to its newsletter in order to read content.
The acceleration of ad block software has publishers against the ropes taking huge financial hits as they scramble for ideas on how to prevent circumvent the damage done by the software which is now estimated to be used by around 200 million web users globally, 12 million of which are estimated to be in the UK.