Truth Is Just Perception

Axel Springer Fights The Good Fight Against Ad Blocking

Europe’s largest media group has decided to ban readers who use ad-blockers from its Bild website.

Internet users can either disable their ad-blocking software or pay a €2.99 monthly subscription to enjoy a mostly ad-free version of the website. Otherwise they won’t see any content on

This is an important initiative for two reasons:

  • The tabloid is Europe’s largest circulation newspaper (2.5 million copies daily). It also has 265,000 digital subscribers.
  • 23% of visitors use ad-blocking software. This data is consistent with the findings of PageFair’s latest study: It revealed that Germany is one of the most affected countries by ad blocking (25% of its digital population use it).
(CC) André-Pierre du Plessis

(CC) André-Pierre du Plessis

Earlier this year, Axel Springer and several media sued Eyeo, the world leader in ad-blocking software. Surprisingly, the courts ruled that its business is legal even though it boils down to knowingly preventing companies from legally monetizing their work.

I have explained on Superception why I am opposed to ad blocking. I wrote at the time:

Ad blocking is nothing but a hypocritical act of piracy. I cannot understand why it is illegal to download bootlegged movies but it would be legal – even in vogue – to use ad-blocking software. Ads are to websites and mobile applications what the purchase of movie tickets or DVDs is to movies: The best way to monetize content production and distribution.

Furthermore, advertising contributes to a media’s overall value proposition and thereby plays a role in the websites and mobile applications that people choose to use. Nobody forces us to consume media whose ads annoy us.

This is why I support the media organizations that take the most drastic measures against ad-blocking software users. The media industry must act quickly because the millennial generation is at the forefront of the adoption of ad-blocking systems. The growth of native ads – since their format and location are identical to those of non-commercial content, they can’t (yet?) be blocked – will not be sufficient to save media outlets and applications developers from the ad-blocking gloom.

Rather than trying to educate digital audiences, the best strategy is that employed by media entities such as Hulu that block users who block their ads or significantly degrade their user experience.

That’s why I support Axel Springer’s decision and hope that other media will adopt it. But, to do so, they will need to be as confident as the German publishing group in the value of their editorial content.

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