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GQ Goes After Ad-Block Users, Demands They Pay For Each Article

GQ magazine is joining the group of web publishers who would rather fight with their readers than do something about the terrible adverts that so many of its visitors don’t want to see.

Digiday reports (but I cannot confirm) that this Conde Nast magazine is now showing visitors who block ads this popup in place of its articles:

gq ad block

I haven’t encountered the pop up myself, but I did find confirmation elsewhere.  “Please Disable Your Ad Blocker” the notice says. “Turn off your ad blocker or purchase instant access to this article, so we can continue to pay for photoshoots like this one,” it concludes, pointing to an image of Amy Schumer dancing with stormtroopers (she was on the cover of GQ’s August 2015 issue).

The magazine is giving readers the option of either making micropayments for each article they read, or subjecting themselves to auto-playing video adverts that slow down your PC.

GQ is reportedly asking for fifty cents per article, which strikes me as a high price to pay for content which is all too likely to be another advert disguised as an article.


This is a classic example of a web publisher who would rather fight with its users than address the real problem of their ads being so terrible that users want to block them (or have to block them, for some visitors). Ad blocking isn’t the scourge of the advertising industry; instead ad tech like that used by GQ is the worst thing that the ad industry could do to itself. Between the punitive autoplay videos and the malware enabled by the wild west nature of the industry, this self-inflicted wound is hurting everyone.

And with more web publishers fighting the wrong problem, there’s no solution in sight.

Conde Naste joins the ranks of Washington Post, Axel Springer, YahooForbes, all of which are now blocking ad-block users and demanding that the users either pay or disable the ad blocking extensions.

While that demand might sound reasonable to the web publishers, let’s not forget that in objecting to ad blocking extensions they are also demanding that we lower our security and invite hackers into our computers. Forbes, for example, has been hacked twice in the past year so that its visitors could be attacked, and that is only one example of malvertising.

Is it any wonder that more people than ever before are blocking ads while browsing online?

image by Aunti Juli

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Thomas Kearney January 7, 2016 um 12:52 pm

So the new media business plan is: first make your product worse, then make it unsafe, then make it a luxury good. Smart.

Nate Hoffelder January 7, 2016 um 1:29 pm

Pretty much.

George January 7, 2016 um 3:31 pm

If a site tells me I can’t read an article because of ad blocking, I just figure I don’t really need to read that article. There’s plenty of others to read.

Frank January 7, 2016 um 4:09 pm

I can look at GQ, Washington Post, Yahoo! and Forbes articles while having my ad blocker on. I just block the bad stuff and allow the article in. Most people don’t Privacy Blocker or similar tools to do this though.

DavidW January 7, 2016 um 6:29 pm

I can look at GQ articles without anything happening. I’m running ublock and ghostery. Are you sure that this article is correct?

Nate Hoffelder January 7, 2016 um 6:34 pm

I have heard it from another source, so yes.

And I do understand your puzzlement; I’m not blocked either.

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