Old-school major newspaper organizations have had to try out a lot of methods to drive revenue, but this is a new one: The Washington Post is stopping people who use ad blockers from reading the site.
The news comes from BuzzFeed, which reported that “The Washington Post has begun intermittently redirecting desktop users to a subscription page if they are using the popular AdBlock software.”
Sure enough, when I tried to read a piece today using Chrome, it redirected me to a subscription page. Again and again.
Typically, the New York Times and the Washington Post‘s paywall allows you to read 10 free articles per month before hitting the subscriber block, but I still haven’t hit my 10 free articles for the Washington Post, and it’s blocking me from reading articles.
According to this report by Time, after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the paper one of his first major moves was allowing other major newspaper subscribers to access the Post‘s content for free. And, according to this Jan. 1, 2015, post on WaPo‘s site, they were all too happy to share ways that readers could access their content for free.
It was also widely reported that Bezos planned to apply Amazon-like tactics to the newspaper: “He noted Amazon’s three big ideas from the company’s inception — put the customer first, invent, and be patient — and said he thinks that strategy can work for the Post when you replace ‘customer,’ with ‘reader,’ ” we wrote.
“Many people already receive our journalism for free online, with digital advertising paying only a portion of the cost,” a Washington Post spokesperson told BuzzFeed about today’s ad-block test.
“Without income via subscriptions or advertising, we are unable to deliver the journalism that people coming to our site expect from us,” the Post statement continues. “We are currently running a test using a few different approaches to see what moves these readers to either enable ads on The Washington Post, or subscribe.”
According to Business Insider, the ad-blocking experiences varies according to browser, Safari “denied access every time,” and BuzzFeed reporting that using search in Firefox for a specific article allows access but then you are blocked if you try to read another article.
The Post is right about one thing: Good investigative journalism takes time — and dollars. How this “test” will affect the Post‘s readership will be fascinating to watch.