back to article 'To read this page, please turn off your ad blocker...'

The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has become the largest newspaper to refuse to serve readers who filter out advertisments. The Post described it as “a short test” to gauge what users who use blocked blockers will do next. “Often, we run tests like this not in reaction to a problem, but to learn,” said the paper in a …

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  1. phil dude
    IT Angle

    liability....

    when ad servers take liability for the software they run on my machine, perhaps I'll reconsider my use of ad-blockers.

    In the mean time, since the adverts make money for the free-to-use websites, perhaps there should be a counter on the website telling users how much money they are being paid for each advert....

    Yeah, didn't think so...

    P.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: liability....

      What, you mean all that risk cross scripting issues?

      or did you mean that someone has embedded a nasty virus that attempts to take over my PC and then extort money?

      Or did you mean the flash security holes?

      :-P

      Yes, agree 100%. What I find funny is the following:

      "“Sorry ad-blockers, I assume you mean well and you have a point about page-load times and ads junked up with tracking tools and Trojan horses and the like,” wrote Advertising Age editor Ken Wheaton, recently. “But theft is still theft, even if it's dressed up as some sort of digital Robin Hood act. You're not just interfering with pixels, you're interfering with business.”"

      -=-

      There is no theft here. If there was value in the content, we'd pay for it. I have a WSJ account because I find value in the articles. Watching some silly cat video someone sent? Really?

      If you don't like it, change your business model. Ooops! That comment was from the guy who's business model goes to pot when they shift away from ads.

      1. beep54
        Devil

        Re: liability....

        re: Ian Michael Gumby

        “You're not just interfering with pixels, you're interfering with business.” Isn't that business model a bit like the one that goes, "Nice plate glass window ya got there. Shame if somthin' were ta happen to it..."

      2. mdubash

        Re: liability....

        And the business model needs to include paying people who generate content, not shoving malware-laden visual crap at the user.

      3. nijam Silver badge

        Re: liability....

        > There is no theft here.

        Well, actually there is. The advertisers are stealing our bandwidth, our time, and our security. Plus, have you *ever* seen an advert for something you actually might buy?

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: liability....

          All the adverts I see are for stuff I might buy - normally because I bought it yesterday. Yes, Snow and Rock, I would like a new ski jacket - that's why I bought one from you yesterday. Thanks for stalking me all over the internet though.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: liability.... @Tom 38

            "Yes, Snow and Rock, I would like a new ski jacket - that's why I bought one from you yesterday."

            But didn't you take a look at ski jackets and then wait a day or two? I've found that if you do this (and if interested click through but still don't buy) the price/offer in the ad tends to get discounted...

        2. John Sturdy

          Re: liability....

          Very occasionally (maybe a couple of times a year), I'll see a web advert for something I might have bought had I found about it some other way; then, to discourage (or rather, not encourage) advertising, I don't buy it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: liability....

        That's balls Robin.

        Their business model is to show content that some people want to consume and to pay for it and make profit by showing adverts.

        If you don't like it, don't go to the website.

        Ad blocking is just sneaking into the cinema via the back door and saying you'd buy a ticket if the film was worth watching.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: liability....

          Actually ad blocking is more akin to turning up to the pictures 30 minutes ( or whatever, I've not been for years ) after the stated start time, in order to not have to watch the adverts.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: liability....

          >Ad blocking is just sneaking into the cinema via the back door and saying you'd buy a ticket if the film was worth watching.

          Untrue.

          They publish their content on the public internet.

          It's more like the cinema projecting their movie on the outside of the building and calling everyone who watches without paying a thief.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: liability....

      Washington Post recently started tripping over my content blockers such as Privacy Badger, never fully loading and causing the tab to hang. They can go to hell.

      1. paulc

        Re: liability....

        "Washington Post recently started tripping over my content blockers such as Privacy Badger, never fully loading and causing the tab to hang."

        report it as a broken site then...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: liability....

      I understand that ads do support "free" websites but for fucks sake stop the ones that jump all over the screen and throw billleeeeeeons of pop-ups that ends up like a game of whack a mole, most irritating of all are auto-start video ads.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: liability....

        >most irritating of all are auto-start video ads.

        Whilst these are irritating and can easily kill a mobile broadband contention that is good enough for basic internet activity, I actually find the auto-start audio ad's more frustrating as there is no obvious connection between the audio and what is on-screen and hence permitting you to shutdown the ad whilst still having audio enabled.

  2. Rono666

    Guess who won't be reading any of their crap then.

    1. John Tserkezis

      "Guess who won't be reading any of their crap then."

      I went there for the first time, curious as to what they were spewing.

      Disabling NoScript had no real effect, still no ads. Perhaps they turn that off for Oz.

      However I still won't be going there for news, because as far as they know, only politically related stories are worthy of their front page. And their science pages are just plain wrong.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Yep. These idiots still haven't worked out how much goodwill and therefore business is lost from them shoving unwanted apps in our faces.

      Skip ad is probably the busiest button on to web.

  3. Mike Flugennock
    Mushroom

    So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

    Somebody call the WAAAHHHHHmbulance!

    I'm not obligated to assist your goddamn' "business", Advertising Age. I cordially invite you bastards to bend over and smooch my ever-widening...

    1. MrT

      “Often, we run tests like this not in reaction to a problem, but to learn,”

      Dear (cough) Ad Age, listen to your 'Friends' (cough cough) at WaPo, then look at Mike's post above and ^^^learn from that^^^.

      Well said, sir.

    2. BillG Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

      The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has become the largest newspaper to refuse to serve readers who filter out advertisments. The Post described it as “a short test” to gauge what users who use blocked blockers will do next.

      What they will do next - they will go to another website for their news.

      I did not start to use an AdBlocker because I dislike ads - on the contrary, I have my own websites with ads. I use an AdBlocker because some reputable websites are so filled with video, Flash, and inline ads, all coded in horribly inefficient JavaScript, that loading the webpage is a nightmare. The load time takes forever, then just when i think it's finished and I'm scrolling, the page will repeatedly keep jumping to the top so I have to scroll down again.

      Then there are the ads that are so intrusive, with or without annoying animations, that I can't concentrate on what I'm reading. Before AdBlockers I used to put my hand over the most distracting ads so I could concentrate and read the text.

      But I must admit that it wasn't until the popup ads on CNN.com that greyed out the screen and hid the "close" button that finally drove me to install an AdBlocker.

      I understand, I understand that we get to read the content for free because the ads pay for them and I appreciate that. But the ads have become so annoying it's like having a bum on the street constantly nag you because he wants your spare change.

      It reminds me of the U.S. car manufacturer's war on Japanese imports in the 1980's. Instead of building better cars in the USA, they wanted to punish Japanese automakers. So today's online advertisers should come up with better, non-intrusive ad practices before blocking AdBlockers. Because if the ads were polite and non-intrusive I would not have one installed now.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

        "Because if the ads were polite and non-intrusive I would not have one installed now."

        But polite and non-intrusive is against the entire ethos of the ad industry.

        Let me explain it from the advertiser's perspective (please don't hurt me!):

        If the ad is not flashy, intrusive, in-your-face and attention grabbing, then it's failed, because you're either looking at:

        A. Some other, flashier ad, or

        B. HORRORS!, looking at the content served as the bait for the ad they paid for you to see.

      2. WylieCoyoteUK
        Devil

        Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

        And where does the money come from to pay for the advertising?

        Out of the customer's pockets that's where.

        I pay for unwanted advertising almost every time I buy something. Who's the "thief" now?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

          "I pay for unwanted advertising almost every time I buy something."

          Alternative view. If advertising gets pushed in my face I won't be paying for it. Because the only effect it will have will be to ensure I avoid whatever it's advertising.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

            @Doctor Syntax

            Alternative view. If advertising gets pushed in my face I won't be paying for it. Because the only effect it will have will be to ensure I avoid whatever it's advertising.

            Yes, quite. Unfortunately too many "others" don't see it that way, and mindlessly click on ads. Think about it this way, had nobody ever responded positively to spam, it would have died out more than 20 years ago.

            There's just to many people out there that will click on literally anything.

            1. Simon Harris Silver badge

              Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

              And as for those ads that try to sell me the thing I've just bought...

              If I just bought a washing machine from you, what are the chances that your advert is going to convince me to buy another one right now? I've already given you my money, so now you're just stealing my time and interfering with my business.

      3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        @BillG Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

        To your point,

        I agree. Most of the time, the older banner ads and page ads were pretty much ignored. I mean I didn't block them, They just never registered in my brain. (I learned to ignore them on site.)

        And of course the biggest issue is the security concern... but hey, we all know that advertisers are the most ethical lot on the net. (SPAM anyone?)

      4. Speltier

        Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

        I have a subscription (!) to some of these paywalled sites, and I still get pelted with ads including those incredibly annoying "cover the text" ads.

        Malvertising finally pushed me over the edge to ABP and RP (fairly lightweight, I mostly just want to stop malvertising and drivebys) -- although if one of the paid for sites blocks access because an ad blocker is present I may block their payment... and let them know. Finally, NoScript disables too many features sad to say.

        Ad support is all well and nice, but at least sterilize the ads first.

        1. Tony Paulazzo

          Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

          Finally, NoScript disables too many features sad to say.

          Websites have too many scripts they want to run is the main problem. And you can always run 'Allow all this page' if you trust it. It's perfect for sketchy sites tho, allows you to see what scripts they have.

          As for WSJ perhaps they should take a page out of The Guardian... a discreet little ms at the bottom of the browser, 'We see you're running an adblocker, if you would like to subscribe...' or something to that effect.

          Forcing people who don't want ads will ensure they go someplace else, and whilst Youtube has a large presence on the net, like Wordperfect, NCR, IBM, Altavista, Yahoo and AOL, etc, Google is not too big to fall, and many video competitors are snapping at their heels.

          1. Joel 1
            Headmaster

            Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

            Does no-one understand the meaning of "theft"? Theft involves taking something such that the original possessor no longer has use of it. Blocking ads in no way prevents the site from being used by anyone else.

            Oh, and if you think that copyright infringement is piracy, I would suggest that the media moguls head to Somalia, as I hear that there is a lot of piracy going on in that neck of the woods, and clearly some angry lawyers letters could sort things out nicely.

            1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

              Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

              'fraudster' may be closer to the mark but let's not give the leeches any ideas.

              Ad Age I would hope will be losing a lot of business for calling their client's clients thieves.

    3. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

      You are not Ken's customer. You are also not Ken's audience.

      1. nijam Silver badge

        Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

        > You are not Ken's customer. You are also not Ken's audience

        So why the f*** is he stealing my bandwidth to pester me?

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: So, Ad Age thinks I'm a "thief" who's "interfering with business"?

      If I didn't read or click on the ads before I installed Adblocker and modified my HOSTS file, than why is that by installed Adblocker I'm suddenly a thief? The reason I installed it was malvertising and intrusiveness. By intrusiveness I mean the ad covers up whatever I'm trying to read.

      The ad agencies need to get a grip and face reality. Until that happens... I guess I won't be going to any pages like the WSJ. Simples.

  4. msknight Silver badge

    And it's perfectly right...

    ...IMHO, that Google, etc. make it easier to install Ad Blockers.

    "Ironically, the survey also found that the largest digital advertiser Google had helped the rise of ad-blocking, by making them so easy to install and use."

    It's my choice whether to use them, and my choice whether to not bother with sites that don't want me if I use them.

    It's my choice whether or not I used them ... not anyone elses choice as to whether they should be difficult for me to install, because they don't WANT me to use them.

    *walks off, grumbling*

  5. IHateWearingATie

    Downvotes

    I'm going to get downvoted to hell, but I don't think what Google, Washington Post etc are doing is wrong. I don't like adverts, but I also like visiting places like El Reg for free, and I can do that as they are ad supported. I see it as the cost of using these sites - I pay by watching ads rather than pay with money.

    It's not theft as per the quote in the article (stupid hyperbole from that bloke), but it doesn't feel particularly ethical to visit a site like El Reg and deliberately block their method of getting payback for that.

    1. Philip Lewis

      Re: Downvotes

      Whielist the site in your adblocker. I have,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Downvotes

        Surely his point is that it's unethical to go to a site supported by ads and read their content whilst deliberating blocking the ads..

        If it's unethical for this site surely it's unethical for all them.

        I guess you could whitelist everything... I see little point.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Downvotes

          "Surely his point is that it's unethical to go to a site supported by ads and read their content whilst deliberating blocking the ads.."

          So it isn't unethical to use the mobile site? As many sites, such as El Reg either display very few or no ad's on their mobile site...

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Downvotes

      I don't agree. I'd actually pay to read El Reg content - not a lot, mind, but I would do it - because I read an awful lot of their articles and see interest in what they offer even if I don't agree with some of what is written. I would miss not being able to read it.

      However, news sites have the issue that most of what they contain is bullshit, propaganda, or both. Most of it is just syndicated shite with no value-add overlay that is just redistributed around the ether. That I will not pay for.

    3. a well wisher

      Re: Downvotes

      Trouble is they don't remove the adverts if you do pay ! - so they want their cake and eat it too

    4. Joel 1

      Re: Downvotes

      Oddly enough, it was El Reg which caused me to install AdBlock in the first place. Do you remember that annoying ad a while back which had some animated woman push back her office chair and slide out from the "ad box" confines and all over the screen?

      Previously I had been happy to have the ads served to support the site, but when they start getting in the way of the content of the site, it had gone too far. AdBlock gets installed (but with a fairly minimal set of rules).

      "You're not paying any attention to my ad - I'll show you! Stop looking at that article and pay attention to me!" <block>

      Sheesh, it's worse than the cats sitting on my newspaper when I'm reading it. And they have claws I respect!

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Downvotes

        Did you tell us about that ad at the time?

        We're pretty hot on nixing crappy ads like that precisely because it narks everyone and encourages readers to de-whitelist us from their adblockers.

        The ads pay everyone's wages here and we quite like having food and a roof overhead. Support El Reg, whitelist us today!

        1. Lyndon Hills 1

          Re: Downvotes

          Like Mark 65, I'd be prepared to pay to read El Reg, so long as there were no adverts for 'subscribers'. How much I don't know, but I wonder if it's been considered?

          1. GregC

            Re: Downvotes

            @ Lydon Hills 1 yup, and me as well. There is only one site on my "frequently used" list that offers the subcribe to remove ads option, and they charge £10/year for it (you also get other benefits, but the ad removal is the important one to me). I'd pay similar, or a bit more* actually, for ad-free access to El Reg.

            *I'm not saying how much more just in case they do implement - don't want to give them ideas.....

        2. launcap Silver badge

          Re: Downvotes

          > The ads pay everyone's wages here and we quite like having food and a roof overhead.

          > Support El Reg, whitelist us today!

          So do you get paid for just displaying the ad or only when someone clicks on it? If it's the former then I'd be happy to whitelist but if it's the latter then whitelisting you would be pointless because I don't click on ads..

          1. grek

            Re: Downvotes

            I would also be willing to white list if i knew that you got paid for views and not only clicks. I would also have to do other masking things to avoid the profiling but I would be willing. If your only getting paid on clicks, then there is no point.

            And to the guy that says me directing my computer to go to their website makes it theft, seems to forget they connected the computer to the internet and directed it to respond.

            1. gazthejourno

              Re: Downvotes

              I don't know the precise details (it's a commercial thing - editorial and commercial here are two completely separate operations, and never the twain shall meet) but as far as I know we earn our shekels through displaying the ads as well as clicks.

              So please do whitelist us. Those Friday afternoon beers won't pay for themselves, y'know!

              1. PDC

                Re: Downvotes

                or holidays in girly pink rooms

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Downvotes @launcap

            >So do you get paid for just displaying the ad or only when someone clicks on it?

            If you bothered to take a look at ad networks you would know that a website like El Reg will get up to three slices of revenue from ad's:

            1. Circulation: Just like print circulation figures are important, so a website will want to have good data on its readership: total number, dwell time, repeat visits etc. as this is information that helps determine the price they can obtain from the ad networks for the placement of ad's.

            2. Click thru's: Here a website may get an additional (micro) payment for the first time they 'introduce' a potential new customer to a third-party merchant.

            3. Purchase: Here a website can receive a referrer's 'commission' if the click thru' results in a purchase.

            Obviously, all of the above are paid out by the ad network, hence whilst the ad network may get the full commission on a purchase (can be substantial - just visit sites such as topcashback), El Reg may simply get a small consideration.

            So the blocking of ad's can to some extent impede business, as if you were needing a new laptop, you could of clicked on a relevant El Reg ad and made your purchase, with El Reg getting a small consideration, whereas going directly to the website means El Reg miss out.

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