Major French news outlets have launched a campaign against ad-blocking software, with some forcing users to uninstall the programs before accessing their sites. The week-long campaign was organized by GESTE, an association of online publishers, with participants including newspapers like Le Monde, Le Parisien, and L'Équipe, as well as the French music streaming service Deezer.
In announcing the initiative last year, GESTE said its members aim to remind readers "that their content and services are not free," and to remind them of the "indispensable character of advertising as a source of finance." According to a study released earlier this month, three out of 10 French internet users currently have ad-blocking software installed, including 53 percent of web users between the ages of 16 and 24. Other sites, including Forbes and the German tabloid Bild, have launched similar anti-AdBlock efforts in the past.
"adblockers are not angels."
Organizations participating in the campaign have deployed various methods to dissuade readers from using ad-blocking software. Some, like Le Parisien and L'Équipe, a sports daily, have made their websites inaccessible to those running AdBlock or similar programs. Others, including Le Monde and L'Express, remain accessible to AdBlock users, though readers running the software will be greeted by messages encouraging them to disable the software or whitelist the sites. Some are offering discounted subscriptions for those who comply.
In an article published in L'Express today, adjoint editorial director Eric Mettout described advertising as a "necessity" for those who want to read the paper without a subscription. He added that "adblockers are not angels," pointing to reports that some larger web companies have paid to circumvent the blocks, though he also acknowledged that publishers and advertisers must respond to consumer demands. Mettout writes that publishers know they must "resolve the most disruptive aspects of ads on their sites," and that "advertisers and their agencies are also, they say, aware of the problem."