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French publishers take adblocking stand

News, 23 March 2016

PARIS: French publishers and media owners are taking a week-long stand against ad blocking, asking those consumers using blocking software to disable it if they want to access content.

Organised by Geste, the trade body which represents leading online media groups, the initiative includes major names such as Le Monde, L'Equipe and RTL as well as a host of smaller brands.

Not all those participating are adopting the same tactics. L'Equipe and Le Parisien, for example, require users to disable their adblockers before they can access any content, the Guardian reported.

But Le Monde merely issues a message to adblocking users pointing out that "For our 400 journalists to provide you each day with high-quality, reliable and varied news each day ... we must be able to rely on advertising revenue" before allowing them to continue to the site.

Adblocking rates in France are among the highest anywhere in the world, with comScore data indicating that 27% of internet users in that country have installed ad blocking software, compared to 10% in the UK and 9% in the US.

"Ad blocking is rife in France, so this collective action by news publishers is no surprise," said Guy Phillipson, CEO of IAB UK.

"Ad blocking is a genuine threat to the free availability of quality online journalism, and we're seeing more and more UK media owners take similar action," he added as he cited YouGov research showing that 64% of ad blocking consumers had seen publisher notices asking them to deactivate their software.

"The good thing is that consumers are increasingly aware of the value exchange," he continued, "and our YouGov research bears this out, with 54% saying they would deactivate their ad blockers for certain content; this rises to 73% of 18-25 year olds – who are most likely to have an ad blocker installed."

Libération is one of the few leading publications that is not participating in the current awareness week in France. "But we are working on a longer-term solution," Xavier Grangier its director of digital, told the Journal du Net.

Sweden's publishers are planning a similar month-long action in August.

Data sourced from The Guardian, The Drum, Journal du Net, IAB UK; additional content by Warc staff