Some of France's biggest news and media websites have started asking users with ad blockers installed to deactivate or uninstall the software before accessing content, in a coordinated move aimed at striking back at rising ad blocker adoption in the country.
Among the publishers adopting the move are Le Monde, Le Parisien, sports daily L'Equipe and French music streaming service Deezer. While some are simply asking visitors to deactivate their ad blocking software, others are preventing access to their content until ad blockers are disabled.
The initiative was organised by Geste, a French trade association that represents online businesses, who argue that the use of ad blocking software deprives websites of vital ad revenues, and hopes the move will reverse the growing popularity of ad blockers in France.
According to a recent Ipsos survey, around 30 per cent of French internet users run ad blocking software, and the figure continues to rise at an accelerating rate as more and more consumers become irritated by disruptive advertising and long website load times. Another survey by PageFair and Adobe suggests France's rate of ad blocker users is the highest in Europe.
"Ad blocking is rife in France, so this collective action by news publishers is no surprise," said Guy Phillipson, CEO of the 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 simlar action.
"The good thing is that consumers are increasingly aware of the value exchange, and our YouGov research bears this out, with 54 per cent saying they would deactivate their ad blockers for certain content. This rises to 73 per cent of 18-25 year olds – who are most likely to have an ad blocker installed."
The value exchange, with publishers using ad revenue to subsidise the cost of putting out free content onto the web, has been highlighted by the various French publishers in their message to ad blocking users who arrive at their websites now.
"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," reads the message from Jerome Fenoglio, editor-in-chief of Le Monde that greets users when they try to access content while blocking ads.
According to Geste, the aim of the collective action is to remind users that "content and services aren't free" and to make clear to consumers "the indispensable character of advertising as a source of financing."