Ad blockers, bundles and the future of publishing
Gradually, ad blockers are growing in use. What was once the preserve of a niche group of techies is gathering pace. To quote Digiday
“Research from AudienceProject, a company that helps publishers understand online audiences, found that 8 percent of mobile sessions detected people using an ad blocker in the U.K., up from 2 percent in 2016. In the U.S., 5 percent of sessions were blocked, up from 2 percent in 2016. In Germany, which has ranked high in desktop ad-blocking use, 13 percent of sessions on mobile were blocked. (AudienceProject had no comparable figures for German.)”
Online publishers are the obvious victims here. And any publisher that hasn’t assessed how it will fund itself without advertising deserves what’s coming to it.
So, paywalls are next, right? But many people only have enough budget for a few subscriptions, and some don’t have a budget for any. I predict that bundled content offerings, that bring together titles from a group of publishers, all-you-can-eat for a fixed monthly fee, is going to be the way forward.
is a pioneer of content bundles, but its ‘pay a few cents per article’ model holds it back. You feel like you have to hold back from reading everything you want to. And its focus on print editions means it doesn’t always have the hot new Bloomberg or FT report everyone’s talking about.
Apple has the right idea. It recently bought Texture
, a US service that gives you unlimited access to a library of digital magazines. It’s likely this will be rolled into Apple News soon. Your ISP will likely offer content subscription bundles too, just like some offer inclusive Netflix or Spotify subscriptions.
I doubt we’ll ever see one bundle containing all paywalled content from all publishers (the returns for each publisher would likely be tiny, and no media company wants to follow the music industry’s journey through a trough of low revenue until the all-you-can-eat model becomes ubiquitous), but I’d snap up a 'business and tech’ bundle containing paywalled content from all the sites I read every day.
However bundles develop, they’re likely the most sensible way forward for online publishing. The next question: can publishers set their egos aside long enough to understand that this approach is the future?