News Corp Australia to stop people using ad blockers from accessing sites


Eales: “This is how we fund our journalism”

News Corp Australia is to prevent people using ad blockers from accessing digital content as it looks to fight back against readers who are circumventing adverts and “destroying” the media firm’s business model.

The publisher is to launch a trial where it will tell people who block ads they can only access content if they turn off the technology, a move adopted by several US publishers already.

News of the trial comes after media executives at the International News Media Association world congress urged the industry to take a harder line with ad blockers.

News Corp has done just that, although its managing director of metro and regional publishing, Damian Eales, acknowledged it must also improve the quality of its advertising and create a more user friendly experience.

Speaking to Mumbrella at the INMA forum in London, Eales said the trial will “test the impact” of blocking the blockers.

“We’ll say to users who have an ad blocker turned on that if you turn it off you can continue [to access content]. We need to describe that this is our business model, that this is how we fund our journalism,” he said.

Paid subscribers who use ad blocking technology will be exempt.

Eales described the problem as “significant” with an “increasing percentage” of visitors blocking ads.

The numbers blocking ads on mobile in particular is “growing pretty rapidly.

“To be clear, ad blocking is a significant issue and it’s one that as an industry and as individual companies we need to tackle,” he told Mumbrella.

“We are funded by a combination of ads and subscription and without that business model we can’t afford to provide this [journalistic] service,”

“The reality is that ad blocking is destroying a key aspect of our business model so we have got to face up to that challenge.”

However, Eales admitted it was not just ad blockers that need to be confronted. Ads themselves must be improved so consumers are less likely to bypass them.

“I think you’ve got to face up to this in couple of different ways,” he said. “One way is deal with the ad blocking and deal with the customers who are using ad blocking, but equally we need to recognise there must be better ways to create advertising that is more appealing to customers and more user friendly.”

Asked if many would heed the appeal and turn off the technology to access content, Eales said: “Some will and some won’t. We make no money out of them anyway, and we are not charity.

“You have to go into this knowing that you are going to lose some audience. But you are prepared to lose that audience because you weren’t monetising them in any way, shape or form.”

While no media firm wants to lose what could be a sizeable percentage of audience, the focus should be on monetising existing customers, he said.

“One of the trends…is that being big is no longer a differentiator,” Eales said. “The reality is that it’s about how you monetise that audience better.

“No one wants to lose, for example, 30% of your audience but the reality is there is a probably a bigger opportunity to monetise your existing audience, and to make a more engaging experience for existing customers, rather than to just worry about ad blocking.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.