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Ad blockers force publishers to get creative

The Atlantic will soon start charging readers who use ad blocking software for access to content. At present, around 10 per cent of Atlantic readers use ad blockers, which cost the publisher approximately $3.4 million last year. This new stance of monetising content is indicative of how a wider number of organisations are finding new ways to stay afloat and retain the quality of their work without the safety net of guaranteed advertising revenue.

Julia Turner, Editor in Chief of Slate.com, has stated that Slate intends to deploy “fewer, better ads” online, in order to fulfil the user’s “reasonable desire” for a clean and distraction-free reading experience. She believes that if a reader derives value from the work produced by Slate, then they should innately want to interact with the version of the website that enables the company to get paid.

“We work with The Media Trust to flag ads that cause slow load times and block ads suspected of malware,” says Turner. “We don’t allow ads that autoplay sound. We eliminated pagination across the site. And we removed the “Around the Web” links from Outbrain that were a steady source of income because users felt they were a poor experience.” Slate is hopeful that if it make its ads less intrusive, it will encourage users to “whitelist” its content (switching off ad blockers for that specific website).

According to current estimates, 30 per cent of all internet users will have ad blockers by 2018. “While the percentage of people ad blocking has leveled off, it’s not likely to go away long-term, given that young people are more likely to ad block,” says Lucia Moses at Digiday.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. According to figures released by The Interactive Advertising Bureau, digital advertising revenues reached an all-time high in Q3 of 2016, driven largely by growth in mobile and video. The best way for publishers and advertisers to continue is to work closely to create compelling experiences that reward users for interacting with them.

Essentially, the next great challenge is to make ads so good people feel they’re missing out if they block them.

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