Blocking the blockers; Mi9 and The Guardian tackle adblocking

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 12 October 2015

Mi9 is taking on adblockers with the online publisher asking consumers who have adblocking software on their devices to switch it off in order to be able to view its video content.

Alex Parsons, managing director of Nine’s digital media business Mi9, which includes sites such as The Daily Mail, lifestyle offerings Honey, Coach and Pickle, as well as Ninemsn, told AdNews that being a publisher that operates an ad-funded model, it needs to communicate with consumers that ads allow consumers to see content for free.

“It's the classic consumer paradigm, they don't want to pay for content but they don't want ads,” Parsons said.

Adblocking, while not a new phenomenon, entered the mainstream last month when Apple announced users can now block ads on both mobile and iPad via the new Safari release in its iOS9 software update.

Parsons explained that Mi9 is currently only blocking its premium video content. Those who have adblocking software active on their device are shown a message saying that in order to watch the content for free they must switch off adblocking on their device.

“[For us it's about an] education piece about how the revenue from advertising helps us fund the staff who create the quality premium content. It's also about communicating on a one to one level with those who are using adblocking software to explain that if they switch it off they can consume our premium content for free,” he said.

The Guardian Australia managing director, Ian McClelland, agrees, telling AdNews that the title is currently testing a similar initiative. The publisher is showing a message to 2.5% of its global audience who use adblockers, encouraging them to support the publication in another way if they don't want to see ads.

“We're looking at communication to the user when an adblocker is detected to give them the opportunity to support the independent high quality of the journalism of The Guardian so we can maintain its free to all status,” he said.

McClelland explained that the trial was going positively and he believes the fact that users use adblocking has nothing to do with the fact that consumers don't want to support publishers.

“We think adblocking has little to do with our audience's willingness to support The Guardian and what it does. We think it's a reaction to poor advertising practices and slow download times, and I think we will have a reactive audience who in some way want to contribute to what we do,” he added.

When it comes to fending off adblocking and educating consumers on the value of supporting publishers, McClelland explained that the broader industry has a role to play in the issue.

“It is up to publishers and the broader industry to re-establish this value chain between readers, publishers and advertisers that works acceptably for everyone so it can continue to support a free, open and mobile internet. You've got to understand the requirement of the user and not just the requirements of the publisher and the advertiser,” McClelland said.

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