Another Major Site Blocking Adblocker Users


wired.com-logoVery recently we published an article discussing how site owners are fighting back against the proliferation of ad blocking software, you can catch up with that article here: Adblocker Blockers Fighting Back. In the article I warn of the potential negative effects caused by ad blockers and how this might change the very face of the Internet as we know it.

Now, news has just come to light of yet another major site taking steps to overcome the blocking of ads. The site is Wired.com and, although the plan has yet to be implemented, it will include two options for users to be able to access the site’s content:

  1. Simply add WIRED.com to your ad blocker’s whitelist, so you view ads.
  2. Subscribe to a brand-new Ad-Free version of WIRED.com for $1 a week.

Wired explains its position in a recently published announcement titled How WIRED Is Going to Handle Ad Blocking, which includes the following:

We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it’s important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going: paying the writers, editors, designers, engineers, and all the other staff that works so hard to create the stories you read and watch here.

wired-ad freeSoon, users won’t be able to access any online content from the popular tech publication unless they stop blocking their ads, or pay for the privilege of seeing no ads. Now, this may appear as though I am harping but these two stories came to light literally within days of one another which, in my opinion, tends to emphasize just how serious this situation is becoming.


One simply cannot argue with Wired’s logic. It does indeed cost a lot of money to maintain a site’s infrastructure, and when the  revenue stream is diminishing to an extent where it no longer supports overheads, steps have to be taken. In its announcement, Wired acknowledges the legitimate reasons why so many millions of people use ad blockers and merely points out that the service they provide incurs a cost, which, of course, needs to be recouped somehow.

Personally, I see Wired’s approach as being very reasonable. What do you think – is Wired’s response to ad blocking acceptable? Would you choose to disable ad blocking on the site or opt to pay the $1.00 per week for an ad-free experience?

 

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

15 Comments

  1. Hello Jim,

    ok, first oft, ad blocker. I use it. Why? Because the sites don’t use clear thinking and keep the ads off to the sides like here, but they are on the left side, right side, bottom and top. They are all over the place. And they slow down my system where I can’t click on something because I am waiting for the ads to finish.

    Also, the ads are clever in that you don’t know if you are clicking on what you want to download or something else that the advertisers want you to put on your system (mal-ware, anyone 🙂 ).

    If rules were put in place and people were made to follow them about ads (on left side only or right side only), then yes, ads are fine. But, no one is making any rules, no one is forcing anyone on ad placement..
    Even the advertisers don’t follow what they say

    (prime example is Icey-Veins a site I go to for World of Warcraft. sometimes you get ads that don’t fit in the size that IV made for them and the ads cover up what one is reading. One can complain, but it doesn’t result in anything, so I use ad-blocker to read what I am after).

    Here, the site has been well thought out (NO! Not buttering you guys up, here). But the ads are placed out of the way, on the right side. And that is good. I don’t use any type of ad blocking here. But then again, I don’t need too because of the well-thought out site) and daves computer tips isn’t a tall poppy because of this. However “Wired” is. pffft a$1 a week, 4 bucks a month, $48 a year, no way….

    ok, sorry lost my train of thought. Meds are kicking my butt, lately. ok, be good and stay frosty

    • Couldn’t agree more roo. That’s what makes this situation so difficult to resolve – both sides have genuine and viable reasons for what they are doing. Users have genuine and viable reasons for blocking ads and site owners have genuine and viable reasons for taking steps to combat ad blockers.

      I’ve no idea what the answer might be, I’m just concerned that the end result may well turn out to be something far less palatable than having to put up with ads.

      • Right now, I’ll gladly skip sites that won’t let Adguard block their ads. Some of the ads can cause spyware to be installed on your PC. They slow down every computer I’ve used, slow it down to, like, molasses. You can’t do anything when ads bog down your CPU. Not all of us can afford a super duper, ultrafast, state-of-the art computer. And I wonder if even the fastest computers would be slowed to a crawl by these poorly written, CPU hogging ads. Gosh ..

    • Correct MB. As per my article, “although the plan has yet to be implemented“.

      No indication on the Wired site as to when this is due to begin, but I’m assuming soon.

  2. You left out a third choice,telling wired to go fish themselves and won’t be using their site. They don’t pay for my ISP,for my computer or my time. I can live without them.

    • Agree with you, Thom. I understand their point of view but, since there are millions of sites on the internet, I too can skip those sites that refuse to show their content when my Adguard is running. Adguard also alerts on phishing sites, etc. – I view it as a companion to my Antivirus, to prevent deception, redirection, malware, etc. Even harmless ‘spyware’ is not so harmless to most of us: it is NOT a minor nuisance, it is a threat to the health of my computer. I also view as a threat, the ads taking of 80 to 90 percent of my CPU – that is unacceptable – there ought to be some standard for the design of these poorly written ads – no need to slow users’ computers to a crawl. 🙁

      • When I refer to a “minor” irritation or inconvenience, I am referring, of course, to legitimate ads. I share yours, and everyone’s concerns over malvertising.

        Granted, mine is a long term view. As in, what happens when the millions of free sites are no longer available and most of what’s left, if not all, are either blocking ad blocker users altogether or employing a pay-for-view system? Perhaps I am being a tad melodramatic, perhaps not. The potential consequences won’t affect me at all, I’m an old man, but they may well affect my grandchildren and their children.

  3. I have ad-blockers added to my browser, right, top, left and center. I’ve come across a few sites already that I visit frequently, which try to deny visitors using ad-blockers. Up to now, either I manage to unblock the adblock blockers (got it ?) and view the site unhindered with no ads, or I quit visiting altogether. There are several reasons to that :

    1. Ads are annoying. I don’t mind a few beautiful ads here and there. I do mind hideous ads, and I categorically reject moving ads. Moving ads prevent you from reading the actual content of the site. This is beyond stupid. Do people who take such decisions even know how to read ? Do they sometimes open — gasp ! — a printed book, and try to read something off the page ?

    2. Ads are dangerous. They are a well-known conduit for malware. It’s my right to do everything I can to protect myself from malware. The site publisher won’t be the one helping me if I get ransomed or otherwise hurt by a virus.

    3. I don’t mind sites politely asking to be whitelisted (the London Guardian does, but won’t withold pages if you don’t). I do mind sites where I’m rudely interrupted by a huge poster covering what I’m currently reading, and bossing me around — or else.

    4. Whitelisting is neither quick or easy. I’ve repeatedly tried to whitelist in AdBlock Plus certain sites requesting it, to no avail : the adverts don’t come back, and the site’s counter-measures still detect, wrongly, the presence of AdBlock Plus.

    So I’m off to whitelist the site in a whole bunch of Firefox extensions, and changing settings one by one, in the blind, trying to find which is the one that triggers the anti-adblocker. That would be, currently :

    – AdBlock Plus.
    – Avast Antivirus browser extension (4 different settings).
    – Ghostery.
    – Disconnect.

    The last time I tried that, I had to tinker with all four, before finally discovering that it was Disconnect which bothered the visited site. You can’t whitelist a site in Disconnect. At least, I cannot. It doesn’t even appear in my menus. So I had to disable it completely. However, in order to do so, you need to restart Firefox. Which takes an awfully long time to open again.

    This is ridiculous. Browsing the web should be a pleasant, fast and safe experience. Not a nightmarish battle where your software is fighting other people’s software in order to try and see something and not be robbed dry of your banking account in the process.

    So it’s up to the Internet advertising community (and the Web publishers, and the software developers) to come up with a working solution. Blaming it on the reader will not do. I’m not “stealing” anything. I’m doing you the favor of coming to your site, whose audience you’re trying to expand. It’s up to the collective you to make my experience pleasant. If it’s a hellish nightmare and you accuse me of being a thief, I won’t come back.

    • I don’t mind sites politely asking to be whitelisted

      Problem is Clairvaux that the polite request method simply is not working. A recent study revealed a less than 1% compliance. So, ultimately, sites are bound to employ stronger techniques.

      Whitelisting is neither quick or easy

      Hmmm, well I can only speak for Adblock Plus, which is very quick and easy. I have ABP installed in Firefox and use its whitelisting system extensively – simply access the dropdown menu from ABP’s icon and select “Disable on [name of site you are currently visiting]”. Takes about half a second.

  4. Now for the benefit of the nice people on this site. I’ve just completed an experiment. I whitelisted Dave’s Computer Tips in AdBlock Plus. Refresh. There’s not a single ad to be seen. Then I whiteslisted the site in Ghostery. Refresh. Still, not a single ad to be seen. In fact, I’ve never seen ads on your site.

    I’m quite willing to make exceptions for well-behaved sites which need it, but it has to be simple and quick. I can’t be expected to do a developer’s work in order to achieve that goal.

  5. A few more examples.

    Seven Forums is another large-ish computer site I read regularly (and contribute to). They have ads, quite a few of them. They don’t reject ad blockers. However, they forbid discussion of them. Of course, I know nothing about their business model (if any).

    I read the London Daily Telegraph online. I was a paid subscriber for one year. The price was reasonable. It was, of course, much lower than the price you’d pay to have the paper physically delivered to you door.

    One year later, I renewed my subscription. Then I realised they had, sneakily, doubled the price without warning. So I canceled my subscription, and I now read the Daily Telegraph for free. It’s a net loss to them.

    Now they have a limit in place where they block you after you’ve read 20 articles in one month. I bypass that limit. I just delete cookies, use private browsing, or employ various “do not track” type extensions.

    Then, suddenly, on top of the free articles limit, they added an adblock blocker warning, requesting to whitelist the site. I did so, to no avail (see my other comments). Fortunately, the warning did not reappear, and I still read the Telegraph for free with adblockers.

    The online subscription price for the Telegraph is now the same it has always been for a paper newspaper delivered to your door, meaning : extremely expensive. They don’t have the print costs any more, they don’t have to pay the extortionate wages imposed by closed-shop printer workers unions, and yet the price has been cranked up to good old physical goods level.

    I’m not paying this sort of money. First of all, I can’t. But even if I could, I wouldn’t. Even if you elect to subscribe, you still get the ads (at least they don’t tell you the site is ad-free for subscribers, as I’m sure they would if it were).

    If the Telegraph luminaries decide, one day, to block adblockers again, or find a technical way to enforce the free article limit more agressively, I will just stop reading it, and consequently stop linking to it in numerous blogs as I do today, providing them with free referrals, allowing their ads to be seen by more people, and bringing them prospects who might pay to subscribe.

    I will do other things with my time : read books (you know, with ink and paper), meet friends, anything.

    Another example. I was a very regular reader of a current affairs blog. Being very popular, they needed money to pay for bandwidth. So they thought it clever, whenever you clicked on their domain name, to divert you from their home page, and redirect you instead to a full-page ad about a book. When clicking on the page, you were redirected to the Amazon page selling it.

    The books were the sort I could have bought (obviously, the site’s interests matched mine). It was very “easy” to pull out of the ad. Just click on the browser tab on the left, and you were back to the genuine home page.

    However, after a few attemps, I quit visiting their site for ever. Having this big in-your-face ad all the time, every single time, being systematically redirected to Amazon, seeing this very same book ten times in a week, was getting unbearable. Oh ! and on top of this, they started to give out warnings “disable your adblocker, or we won’t show you the pages”. It’s probably one year I haven’t visited them. Before that, I was there everyday. Now, I have almost forgotten about their existence.

    I read the London Daily Mail online. It’s free. They don’t have adblocker blockers. Granted, much of their “news” is tabloid rubbish, but I also get from them some invaluable news about current affairs I don’t get from “serious” newspapers.

    I read an American blog about a specific aspect of current affairs. It’s a reference in its field. They don’t have ads. They do have a funding campaign every third month. People do contribute. Not only does it pay for bandwidth, but it also puts the food on the table for the husband and wife team editing the blog. They do live on a shoestring, in the middle of the woods, literally.

    There’s another reason I have, recently, cranked up significantly my anti-ad defences. I reinstalled my computer from scratch. I went so far as to erease completely my disks before doing a clean install, writing zeroes (or ones) all over them.

    The first time I went online after that, I was shown an ad about a very specific type of product that was unmistakably targeted to me personally, because I had researched it, or browsed it, before nuking my PC to the ground and installing from scratch. And still, someone, somewhere, “knew” about it. This is beyond creepy. It’s scary.

    So I began seriously researching privacy tools.

    Not wanting to flame anybody here. Just stating facts. If that has been my experience, it means millions of others have had the same. I don’t pretend to have the solution. Other than what I said : it’s up to the Internet advertising community (and the Web publishers, and the software developers) to come up with a working solution.

    One of the leaders of the Opera browser team has split, and is now working on a new browser. The idea is to embed a way to enable websites to finance themselves with a reasonable amount of ads, without it being so obnoxious to users that the Web melts down in an arms race of the sort we’re seeing now. An interesting path if you ask me.

    • Excellent post, Clairvaux. Quite eloquent. As for me, I shall simply go elsewhere when I encounter a site that insists I turn Adguard off. Adguard to me is an adjunt to my Antivirus: it blocks these obnoxious and almost toxic ads that eat up your CPU cycles and bandwidth. I found that, brefore Adguard, some sites were so bad you couldn’t use them because they slowed your system to a crawl. ☹

      That is really annoying: like, for example, an online email site where, because of the ads, when you open a composition window, you cannot compose anything – because your System is rendered so slow and sluggish by these poorly written ads. You’ll start typing out an email and you’re typing into the invisible ether for ten or more seconds:

      then, suddenly, what you typed will show up. It’s like broadcasting a football game with a ten second delay in your headset: it will drive you insane! The lag is so much, and your System so slow and sluggish, you cannot get anything done – and that because of these dumb, poorly written CPU-draining, Bandwidth-sucking ads. Uggh ..