BERLIN/LONDON: German publisher Axel Springer, one of Europe's largest media groups, has told online readers of its Bild tabloid newspaper that they must switch off ad blocking software or pay a €2.99 monthly fee.
Readers of Bild.de, the online version of Europe's top-selling tabloid newspaper, will be offered in return a version that will be mostly ad-free and comes with a loading time up to 50% faster than the standard website.
"Bild is responding to the increasing adblocker usage by testing a new service. We are hereby offering two options to our readers: turn off the adblocker or try our new subscription to 'BILDsmart' – otherwise, you will not be able to see any content," said Donata Hopfen, chairwoman of the Bild Group Management Board.
As Springer steps up its fight to protect its revenues, the company also confirmed that it is appealing against a court ruling made in Cologne last month. The ruling rejected its lawsuit against Eyeo, a German ad blocking start-up.
German newspapers Handelsblatt and Die Zeit lost a similar case against the maker of Adblock Plus in a Hamburg court last April.
The issue is of particular concern for German publishers because more than 30% of Germans who go online use ad blocking software, according to Dublin-based analytics firm PageFair.
Springer's initiative comes as a new global survey of 3,000 consumers across 17 countries has revealed the most common ways in which they try to avoid ads.
According to BuzzCity, a mobile advertising network, 30% change channels on the TV or radio to minimise expose to ads while more than a quarter (28%) pay to avoid ads by subscribing to paid TV and VoD services.
A similar proportion (26%) use browser pop-up blockers when online, while internet ad blocking software is used by another 26%. About a quarter (24%) discard direct mail.
"Consumers are living in an age of ubiquitous advertising and are responding to this by working out ways to filter what advertising they want to see, hear and listen to," said Dr KF Lai, CEO and founder of BuzzCity.
"Ad avoidance is not a new phenomenon. However, with a more discerning consumer, brands and agencies need to respond to it and treat their audiences as individuals, targeting ads more carefully."
Data sourced from Axel Springer, Guardian, Digiday, BuzzCity; additional content by Warc staff