The Financial Times’ anti-ad blocking trial, whereby readers were given varying content restrictions to see what proved most effective in convincing blockers to whitelist, has reportedly proven that completely restricting content grants the highest conversion rate with two thirds of readers whitelisting the site.
The FT took a sample of 15,000 registered users, split them into three groups, and gave each group them varying degrees of access to content unless whitelisted.
The results found that two thirds of users turned off adblocking on the site when access to content was fully restricted, nearly half who had words removed from the story they were reading.
Interestingly, almost 40% of users who continued having unrestricted access to FT.com whitelisted the site when asked to do so.
The publisher ran the trial for 30 days in an attempt to win back control of its ad inventory, instead of subscribing to AdBlock Plus’ arguably unethical platform, which charges publishers and ad networks to show what it deems ‘acceptable ads’ to ad blockers.
Since the EU recently outlawed network-wide ad blocking, publishers are forced to attempt to communicate with readers why advertising keeps their content running, in hopes these readers will understand the value exchange. Gentle messages which don’t restrict content have proven ineffective in other publishers, with the Guardian among those taking a more aggressive approach in trials to convert more whitelisters.
Ad blocking is expected to cannibalise $27bn of digital publishers’ revenues by 2020, according to a study by Juniper Research, a number that is rising all the time as online publishers struggle to find effective strategies to counter its use. According to July 2016 research, two out of three US millennials use an ad blocker on a desktop or mobile device.
Dominic Good, global advertising sales & strategy director, said: “Through open dialogue with FT readers we are emphasising the importance of advertising as a revenue stream for quality, independent journalism. These results show that FT readers accept advertising as part of the reader/publisher value exchange, and they trust us to create the best possible advertising experience with our partners.”