When sites like the Washington Post actively prevent ad-block users from seeing content, they're betting that users will disable the ad-blocking extension.
But in the case of Yahoo Mail, that is a sucker's bet. For one thing, Google has shown us that the majority of users will leave a site when stymied by an interstitial advert; how do you suppose they'll respond to an ultimatum?
It would be a different matter if Yahoo Mail were some unique service, but it's not the only web email service, nor is it the only free email service, as users are well aware:
LOL - Fuck you Yahoo Mail for trying to get me to turn off my ad-blocker. You can kiss my ass with that bullshit.
— batman (@d_batman_b) November 19, 2015
"please disable ad blocker to continue using yahoo mail" how about no. do you want me to stop using yahoo mail?? cause this is a good start
— Timmay (@RunLikeDeer) November 19, 2015
So @YahooMail has blocked my inbox for using an ad blocker. It was a good run, I guess. Goodbye! Hello Apple Mail, as much as I hate it.
— Andrei Herasimchuk (@Trenti) November 19, 2015
Yahoo is only the latest web company to take a hostile position on the topic of ad blocking. In addition to the Washington Post, Axel Springer is experimenting with blocking ad-block users from seeing bild.de. Digiday also reported that City AM, a London-based newspaper, started a trial this week barring ad-block users from reading its articles unless they disable their block. And ITV, the UK's top broadcaster, has been barring ad-block users since earlier this year.
According to Tom Yeomans, CEO of ad tech company Yavli, Yahoo could be betting that users will value the investment they made in their email addresses more than a good user experience.
“They’re likely testing this particular approach, banning ad blocker users, on their email service because they know their users will be forced to disable their ad blocker if they want to check their emails within their web browser,” Yeomans told Digiday. “Their users’ email account content are unique to them, so it’s different from news content where they can visit a competing website to get a same or similar experience.”
I wish Yahoo luck with that idea; it strikes me as a great way to get users to leave Yahoo Mail and not come back. And even those who have an identity built around a Yahoo Mail address can still transfer their email activities to another service and keep using the old email address remotely.
So unless pissed off users counts as a win, Yahoo has gained nothing today.
image by JD Hancock