Top French newspapers unite to stop ad-blocker users from reading online stories

A newsstand with French daily newspapers in France. Picture: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

France’s top news publishers have united to crack down on ad-blocking.

More than 80 per cent of the nation’s top 40 news publishers have reportedly joined the push back against ad-blocking software led by online services trade body Geste.

Quality national titles Le Monde, Le Figaro, La Parisien and L’Equipe are among those now actively blocking out content to readers with the software installed and asking them to remove their ad-blockers.

The action this month follows an initial testing period by news publishers in March. It is being carried out across open-access and subscription models alongside a clean up of intrusive ads.

“It’s important to do it collectively,” Bertrand Gié, head of new media at Le Figaro, told Digiday.

“If a reader goes on to Le Figaro and sees the message, then later on in the day they see the same one on Le Monde, and then somewhere else at the end of the day, then the message is getting inside the brain of the reader.

“We are all competitors, but we’re not afraid to lose those readers because we’re all in the same position.”

Research from AdBack and IAB France found that on average publishers in France are losing between 25 and 30 per cent of revenue to ad-blockers.

According to a survey of 13,000 French people by Ipsos, 30 per cent said they used ad-blocking software.

Under the new ban, Le Figaro has said it is seeing about one fifth of its 31m unique monthly users deactivating their software, which is between 20,000 and 30,000 people a day.

In its messages to readers, shown if they try to access online content with an ad-blocker installed, Le Figaro is not only encouraging them to turn off the software but also to become premium, paid subscribers. So far, only around 1 per cent have signed up as a result.

Le Monde, which faces 22 per cent of visitors to its site blocking ads, has seen 14 per cent of those exposed to the message deactivate the ad-blocking software.

Earlier this month, Press Gazette reported that City AM had seen more than two-thirds of its desktop readers who use ad-blocking software agree to switch them off after the publication barred access to editorial content for ad-block users.

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