The Publishers Strike Back: The War Against Ad Blockers And Shifts In The Industry

Publishers and Ad blockers

Publishers ad blockers

There’s a disturbance in the the media landscape, clouded is the future for publishers who rely on advertisers to stay afloat. Consumers are increasingly adopting ad blockers to keep unwanted content out.

In fact, some publishers in Sweden have become so desperate that they’ve banded together to block content from users using ad blockers. But who can really blame them? Advertising has sustained publishers ever since the beginning, and with technology essentially cutting off their life support, publishers are grasping at anything to save themselves.

Blocking the blockers

Some publishers like GQ have taken a similar route to block audiences who use ad blockers from viewing their content.

Other publishers give readers a chance to pay a one-time fee to access content free from ads. But the options are unpopular and have caused negative reactions towards publishers, as evidenced by the comments section of this article.



While several publishers are taking the no-nonsense approach, other publishers like popular video game site Destructoid appealed to audiences in this earnest article about the consequences of ad blocking. The article explains the difficulties of running an independently owned news site to readers as well as why certain appeals and changes were made.

It was somber, and fans of the site would have been hard pressed to ignore their call to white list the site on their ad blocking plugins. A strategy that essentially allows approved sites to continue to display advertising to audiences with ad blockers.

The post worked, and almost 3 years after that post, Destructoid remains a well-loved news site for gamers.

Publishers in Singapore

It has taken a while for ad blocking to pick up in Asia. But it’s here. And publishers are starting to feel the burn.


The Straits Times has shifted their online offerings to a restricted model requiring readers to take up subscriptions to enjoy unlimited access. Free content is only limited to 30 articles a month. The paper is currently sold at newsstands at S$1.10 (S$1.20 on weekends), making the subscription a very viable option if you read the news daily.

Tech In Asia, on the other hand, has taken a different approach by eliminating interruptive ads and subscription models for native advertising instead. Brand Pulse, a new advertising initiative by the publisher seeks to help brands produce content that adds value to readers in place of traditional advertising.

Native advertising

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The rise of ad blockers and the shrinking numbers in ad revenue have forced the publishing industry to take certain risks and new approaches. A new age is upon us, and all these reactions still remain experimental until a definitive answer appears.

So far, native advertising seems to be the right approach, content that is seamlessly integrated onto publishing platforms and adds value as regular articles have seen good returns for brands and publishers. This new form of advertising also circumvents ad blockers by appearing as part of the site’s regular content.

But the new champion of the publishing industry faces challenges too. Some publishers are wary of the ethical guidelines surrounding native advertising. Sites that have relied on non-affiliation and neutrality to dispense non-biased views can no longer claim to do so on ethical grounds and suffer the financial consequence of lost prestige.

Readers are also catching up to the trend and are starting to feel cheated after learning the post they poured time into was sponsored.

It seems like a never-ending battle, and the industry is ripe for a sweeping transformation. Publishers and brands will now have to put increased consideration into producing the right content by ensuring it delivers the appropriate values to readers of specific platforms to avoid scrutiny. A tall order, but one that will have to be fought to survive.

But in the midst of despair, I shall end today’s article with what I consider to be one of the best examples of native advertising. The following clips are excerpts from The Giant Bombcast, which I happen to be a big fan of. It’s the only time I actually look forward to ads, and I hope we can all learn a lesson or two from these magnificent clips: