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FT: Blocking Content is the Best Way to Beat the Ad Blockers

Alex Spencer

FT ad block banner

An example of the methods being tested – a banner prompt, and story with missing words

Completely restricting access to content has proved the most effective way of encouraging users to disable their ad blockers, a Financial Times study has found.

The publisher tested three different methods on a sample of 15,000 registered users over a period of 30 days. One group of test users were shown a banner prompting them to add to the site to their blocker's whitelist but had no restrictions imposed on their content; another were shown a version of stories with some of words removed, along with a prompt; another had their access blocked completely alongside the prompt.

Remarkably, 40 per cent of the first group whitelisted the site, without any incentive to do so – but the content restriction methods did yield higher results. Having some words removed led 47 per cent to whitelist the site, while a total restriction convinced 69 per cent to whitelist it.

For comparison, the FT notes that five per cent of users whitelisted the site without any prompting at all.

It's also worth noting, though, that this test only covered users who were registered to the site. Compared to the 20 per cent of traffic the FT says it receives from ad blockers, these registered users only make up 0.75 per cent of visitors – and may well be more predisposed than the average user to acquiesce to a whitelist request.