Many Ad-Blocking Readers Agree to See Ads When The Financial Times Asks

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The Financial Times showed some readers who use ad blockers articles missing words in proportion to the revenue that advertising provides.
The Financial Times showed some readers who use ad blockers articles missing words in proportion to the revenue that advertising provides. Credit: Financial Times
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The Financial Times says its recent 30-day experiment with new approaches to combatting the rise of ad-blocking technology was a success.

The test was conducted on 15,000 registered readers. One sub-group was asked to whitelist the newspaper's website with their ad blockers, allowing its ads to appear normally. Even though they had the option of dismissing the notice and continuing to block ads, 40% agreed to whitelist the site.

Some ad-blocking visitors were selected to see a version of an FT story that was missing a share of words representing the percentage of the company's revenue from advertising. Of that group, 47% decided to whitelist the site.

The third test group was given the strictest ultimatum: Whitelist the site or leave. Sixty-nine percent of those visitors agreed to whitelist FT.com.

"These results show that FT readers accept advertising as part of the reader/publisher value exchange, and they trust us to create the best possible advertising experience with our partners," global advertising sales and strategy director Dominic Good said in a prepared statement.

The company said 5% of readers in the experiment who weren't asked to whitelist the site, as a control group, whitelisted the site on their own initiative. As part of launching the experiment, the newspaper did publish an "advertising charter" explaining to readers the value exchange inherent to the advertising-supported media business and pledged to never disrupt the reader experience.

While the newspaper is not alone in trying to fight it, ad blocking is a big problem for the FT, affecting some 20% of the company's traffic. The test group represented .75% of the newspaper's total traffic.

Asked how the study will inform the FT's approach to combating ad blocking going forward, a company spokesman declined to comment.