The Atlantic magazine implements 'hard white wall' to discourage adblocking among its non-subscribers

Adblocking is forecast to be used by one-quarter of US internet users by the end of 2016

The Atlantic has updated its adblocking strategy, moving from a 'soft wall' to a 'hard wall'.

The move means those who have installed such software on their browsers will have to either whitelist the site to allow their adblocking software to display ads from the title's website, or alternatively purchase a subscription to access content.

Earlier this year, the Atlantic began offering readers a soft wall option where they could purchase an ad-free subscription as a kind of soft wall tactic. As the site has become more secure and with the aid of user feedback, users with adblockers will now see a hard white wall when arriving at the site.

The Atlantic explained: “For our publication to continue to grow and be sustainable, we need to create an environment where readers can accept and feel good about ads alongside our work—or else support it in alternative ways.

"We strongly believe that it's about choice. And if the choice is to block ads, there must be a value exchange. We appreciate that people have privacy concerns and that -- regardless of improvements we make to user experience and security -- some may not be satisfied. And so we’re giving them other ways to support The Atlantic."

Adblocking is a real threat to digital publishers and the Atlantic’s bold move will be watched with interest. The move by the title underscores the fact that one-quarter of US internet users employed adblockers at the end of 2016, according to eMarketer with that percentage of people growing at a significant rate. It is estimated that three-in-10 internet users will be using blockers by the end of 2018 and adblocking usage could top 75 million in 2017.

Speaking on a panel session as SXSW last month, Jason Kint, chief executive of premium publisher trade association Digital Content Next (DCN), said: “A full 80% of our membership’s revenue comes from advertising."

"The challenge this issue presents is that it is a consumer-driven issue. It’s growing linearly and it’s creeping over time. It’s not really hitting the economics in a significant way yet, but it will if we don’t do something about it. And our industry doesn’t deal well with linear problems, frankly.”

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Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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