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Telegraph is Now Blocking Ad-Block Users

3220157727_cfd8bbb315_bThe arms race between ad-dependent publishers and ad blocking has a new front: The Telegraph. Earlier this month this publisher started blocking access to the site to some users of ad-blocking software.

The first hint of the new policy was a tweet dated 13 January (and an AdBlock Plus support thread from a week later), but it has gone largely under the radar until I visited the site today and was blocked from reading the article:

telegraph as block notice

I was not shown this pop-up when I visited the site on Android or iOS, only when visiting from Chrome on Windows.

After disabling Ad Block Plus, I was shown a page with a relatively low number of adverts (mostly Google and Amazon, surprisingly, with one large OutBrain sponsored link ad unit on the page). It was a far nicer experience than Forbes, which is engaging in a similar war on ad block users while also promising an "ad-light" experience (but actually delivering malware).

The Telegraph’s less obnoxious ads could explain why the response on Twitter has been milder than the hostile response Forbes and Yahoo got when they

The launch of iOS 9 with its integrated content-blocking features last year brought ad-blocking to the forefront, and publishers have been responding with various degrees of subterfuge, social engineering, and hostility. Some, like Forbes, Yahoo, and Telegraph, are fighting users by blocking anyone caught running ad block software.

Others like BookRiot are crafting ad units that get around ad block software, or are partnering with ad tech companies that promise to outwit the ad block software.

And then there are the web publishers who have either taken no action, or have adopted the mild approach of a nag screen pop-up which asks that users stop blocking ads.

The soft approach has not proven to be very successful, and that’s a shame because Forbes' hostile approach appears to be working. A few weeks back Forbes reported that about 40% of the visitors who were asked to turn off their ad blockers did so.

If other publishers have similar luck then the war between users and publishers will expand as more publishers choose to fight rather than fix the problems caused by ads like malvertising and visitors getting hit with hidden CPU and bandwidth costs.

Edit: And that fight will simply lead to another round of escalation in the arms race between ad block developers and web publishers. As readers have pointed out in the comments, are already a couple scripts that bypass the ad block blocks used by Forbes, Telegraph, and other sites.

In other words, the web publishers have lost this round, and will have to go back to the keyboard and come up with a way to block the anti-block blockers. It is no more or less an arms race, which is way I am glad I chose to sit out this war and use soft propaganda instead of getting into a fight.

image by Javier Gutierrez Acedo


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Michael January 29, 2016 um 4:41 pm

> Forbes' hostile approach appears to be working. A few weeks back Forbes reported that about 40% of the visitors who were asked to turn off their ad blockers did so.

Ah, but in time will they tell us what percentage of those who try the "ad light" experience have blocking back on the next time they visit, or how many don’t return again (and how that compares to their previous retention rate)? Is Forbes valuable enough to its visitors that they’ll tolerate having their trust abused?

Nate Hoffelder January 29, 2016 um 5:04 pm

I turned it off, and then turned it right back on again.

Chris Meadows January 29, 2016 um 7:02 pm

I didn’t have any problem loading the Telegraph on Chrome/Windows. I’m using uBlock Origin, and, probably more importantly, the f-word f-word adblock anti-anti-adblock script.

Isn’t that a kick in the pants? Begun, this adblock arms race has.

Nate Hoffelder January 29, 2016 um 7:18 pm

I didn’t see it on my later trips, and I have another report from someone who didn’t see it, either.

1 January 29, 2016 um 9:37 pm

They aren’t really doing a very good job.
I have installed as an easy way to get past those pages with the enter your email and subscribe things.
It turns out that it gets past the adblock-blocker with ease.

Nate Hoffelder January 29, 2016 um 10:56 pm

@1 Thanks for pointing to that addon!

I added a mention at the end of the post. It really added to the story.

@Chris So did your link, Chris!

Ad blight: A TeleRead community member speaks out – TeleRead January 30, 2016 um 1:55 am

[…] Telegraph is the latest publication to wage war against ad-blocker users. The good news is that the ads are less pushy than those at another combatant, Forbes, which has […]

J.D. Ogre January 30, 2016 um 9:17 pm

> In other words, the web publishers have lost this round, and will have to go back to the keyboard and come up with a way to block the anti-block blockers.

Or they could gang up on the ad networks and demand ads that aren’t obnoxious (popups, popunders, overlays, interstitials, animation or sound), don’t track the visitors (seriously, why do they need to know anything more than "Was the ad displayed to a probable human?"?), and to secure their friggin' networks so they’re not the second-largest (after e-mail) vector for malware.

But, nah, it’s easier to blame those who are trying to defend themselves and their computers and whine about how much money they’re losing.

Nate Hoffelder January 30, 2016 um 9:37 pm

That would involve choosing not to fight with visitors. It would also involve taking a hit to the pocketbook.

Neither option will appeal to the folks behind Forbes or the Telegraph.

AdBlockers: la última guerra en internet — DinamicBrain February 10, 2016 um 4:59 am

[…] en este batalla. Los propios medios también están empezando a tomar medidas. Un ejemplo es el de The Telegraph, que ha empezado a no permitir la navegación a los usuarios que utilicen un bloqueador de anuncios […]

Adblock Walls: Doomed Arms Race or Heroic Last Stand? | Inside PageFair March 14, 2016 um 11:57 am

[…] non-video publishers experimenting with adblock walls has grown to include the UK’s City A.M. and The Telegraph, Germany’s Bild, GQ, The Washington Post, Forbes and WIRED. Some of these walls are currently […]

User Experience for Google AdSense Publishers: A Complete Guide | AdNgin March 29, 2016 um 6:32 am

[…] The Telegraph has done likewise. When users visit with an ad blocker enabled, they’re treated to a full-page pop-up explaining the importance of advertising to The Telegraph, and instructing users to disable their ad blocker for The Telegraph if they’d like to continue reading. […]

Carla April 11, 2016 um 4:59 am

I have removed the Telegraph online from the News folder. Their loss.

Newspaper Trade Group Takes Ad-Blocking Fight to FTC | The Digital Reader June 11, 2016 um 1:34 pm

[…] ad blockers by either getting their site whitelisted with the blocking services or by nagging or banning ad block users. Axel Springer has even filed a handful of lawsuits against ad block developers in […]

Adam September 29, 2016 um 5:46 am

There’s also a chrome extension I use called Overlay Blocker that stops these

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