local media insider

Turning ad-block users into email and paid subscribers

GetAdmiral provides a simple way to register 10 to 30% more user


Adblocking reduces newspaper and TV digital ad revenue by 20-30%, but there are a variety of strategies to unlock that revenue and grow relationships with those adblocking visitors.

One of the best is developed by  Admirala company that recognized there is value in users with ad-block turned on, not just just to recover ad impressions but also to start a visitor relationship that ends up with an email, social follow or subscription offer. 

While some media serve hard paywalls to users with adblocking turned on, Admiral CEO Dan Rua contends that hard paywalls miss the opportunity to build a relationship. Instead, Admiral offers a range of options, including a “light touch” designed to capture an email or social follow, which can be followed later on by a subscription offer. The mix and match approach is turnkey and customizable to the priorities of the media company.

“Adblocking gives you a great beachhead to start a relationship,” says Rua, “because before you ask them to pull out their credit card, you can ask them to support ads, or exchange an email or social follow in return for an ad-free experience.”

“You can begin to build a relationship with the visitor, optimise that relationship, and create a long-term sustainable value exchange. Subscriptions are the pinnacle of that relationship, not a proposal you jump to on the first date.”

Ironically, newspapers and television sites have roughly the same percentage of adblocking, because once ads are blocked to avoid an especially intrusive experience somewhere else on the Internet, they are blocked everywhere — even local media sites working hard on ad experience.

That leaves a variety of opportunities to start a relationship, Rua contends. Below are a few examples of user “experiences” created by Admiral´s platform on a variety of media.

First from the PGA tour, a engagement aimed solely at recovery. This simple modal is considered a “Gated Engage”, and asks for removal of the adblocker in order to view the site, although there is a small “Or continue without disabling” option:

The Pittsburgh-Post Gazette uses a “Hard Engage w/background image”  which adds an image in the background blocking the previous content, to focus visitors on the message and drive emotional cues via imagery.

Some media opt to allow ad-free experiences in return for a social follow or email. This “Engage + newsletter subscribe” model is used by The Washington Times. It combines the choice to allow ads with a newsletter sign-up, with a brief pitch, “asking for your support” to keep content free. Even though the headline reads, “Please choose one of the following”, there is still a “Not this time” opt-out option at the bottom.

Raw Story uses a similar approach, adding an ad-free subscription option to become Supporting Members, with a small  “Continue without supporting” option. There is also a separate allow notifications pop-up on the page.

Finally, News 24 offers an ad-free subscription for R49 a month, under the slogan, “Truth matters,” or a whitelist option via Smart Engage that offers “Continue without supporting us” based upon prior visitor behavior.

Admiral provides an integrated modal order system that completes subscription without taking the user off the original content URL.

Rua says the light touch is more effective in gaining registrations and subscriptions long term, and also delivers a better user experience by adding a value exchange along the pathway.

The code can be added to existing content-based paywall systems to facilitate email and social media capture, or used on its own. Another advantage is simplicity, the turnkey system includes free adblock analytics, pre-designed graphics and text installed with a single line of code.

Is there a danger to publishers in trading ad-free experiences for emails and/or subscriptions? Rua contends, that while the system is customizable to publisher goals, typically the value of a paying subscriber is significantly greater than the ad-consumption value of that visitor, and by starting with adblockers the risk is nearly zero.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
met-Media Execs Tech
Meet your peers

Please log in to join your group.

View all groups