Wired readers who use adblockers, you’ve been warned.
Soon you won’t be able to get any online content from the popular tech publication unless you stop blocking their ads, or pay for the privilege of seeing no ads.
For a while, if you visited Wired.com with an adblocker enabled, you were presented with a message politely asking you to “support” the publication by disabling your adblocker or “whitelisting” the site.
That message (ironically, featured in a display ad), has now been replaced with an ad announcing that Wired will soon be launching an ad-free version of the site, for which you have to pay a subscription.
In a note titled “How Wired is going to handle ad blocking,” Wired’s editors plead their case that adblockers are undercutting the revenues that pay for the publication:
We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it’s important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going: paying the writers, editors, designers, engineers, and all the other staff that work so hard to create the stories you read and watch here.
Unlike some adblocker critics in the advertising and publishing industries, Wired acknowledges the legitimate reasons why so many millions of people (and 20% of Wired.com visitors) use adblockers: blocking ads generally means a faster and less annoying web browsing experience, and cuts down on substantial security and privacy risks.
No, you’re not causing the demise of the publishing industry if you use an adblocker, but this stuff isn’t free, the editors seem to be saying.
If you want to continue to read content from Wired, you have only two options: disable your adblocker when you visit the site, or pay for the ad-free version of the website.
If you don’t disable your adblocker, or pay for the ad free site, you’re out of luck – you won’t get to see any Wired content.
By disabling your adblocker on the site, Wired says you’ll only see “polite,” standard display advertising.
The subscription-based, ad-free version of the site will have no display advertising and no “ad tracking,” Wired says.
In a sense, this is what counts as a compromise in the adblocker wars.
Instead of using anti-ad-blocking technology to ignore the wishes of users who want to block ads and serve them ads anyway, Wired is giving its readers a choice – albeit one that adblocker users probably won’t like.
Wired says it will “continue to experiment” with ways to publish stories, while also maintaining a “healthy business that supports the storytelling.”
What that might look like is unclear, but some publishers are getting around adblockers by blurring the lines between editorial content and advertising with so-called native ads.
Readers at Naked Security have some very strong opinions about adblockers, and we’d like to know if you agree or disagree with Wired’s approach.
Would you turn off your adblocker to use the site with ads? Or pay for a version of the site without ads?
Or would you rather walk away?
Have your say by taking the poll below.
Image of please stand by TV courtesy of Shutterstock.com.
48 comments on “Wired to adblocker users: pay up for ad-free site or you get nothing”
I’m much more interested in subjects than sites so the idea of taking out a subscription for one site doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll browse the web for subjects of interest and if I end up on a page that tells me to turn off my ad blocker I’ll walk away.
The biggest problem with ads, for me, is not so much the tracking but the performance. Despite an industry-wide push towards mobile-friendly, responsive sites I’m sure that the performance of websites in general is degrading rapidly on account of ad scripts and adverts.
Agree completely, There are news aggregator services out there which can provide identical news stories.
Theres nothing more annoying than viewing a site on mobile and then ads pop up and/or appear in the middle of content.
I follow the same principle. In addition to ad networks now becoming more and more exploited with the risk of greater harm to our security and privacy these ads do slow down pages and provide a poorer browsing experience. I do not want to be reminded of the products I have just looked at or have purchased from Amazon to be shoved in my face.
I will add though is that I appreciate that all these news and magazine sites amongst others have to generate revenue in order to operate and if we wanted to read a magazine we would buy it from a shop, when we watch news and magazine programmes on TV they are funded by our subscriptions charges, the license fee and adverts. So what is the difference in this model, is it not the same thing? Yes it is but the crux of the matter is it’s no good shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
All these companies providing news and magazine sites probably did so for free at the dawn of the internet as it was seen as a new medium to be used to reach new customers where they otherwise couldn’t which would promote the physical magazines and newspapers or direct readers to watching the TV program and therefore generating more revenue from these traditional channel streams, with the ubiquity of the internet, many readers or subscribers have turned to this medium maybe almost exclusively and so now content providers need to re-evaluate their funding model in order to keep going. I know hindsight is a wonderful thing but if these sites would have charged from the word go maybe we wouldn’t be complaining so much.
Personally I think it’s perfectly fair to say that a site is available ad-free for a subscription or free, with ads, because I have three choices and nobody is being forced in to anything. But personally I won’t use the site that blocks ad-blockers. Dispassionately and without malice I that strategy will fail though.
What I don’t like in the grand debate about what to do about falling ad revenues is the line of argument is that somebody or some company ‘deserves’ to be paid or ‘ought’ to be rewarded for producing content because that’s the way writing used to work. Users are voting with their clicks and slowly rejecting the attempts made (so far) to monetize the written word and the onus is on the writers to prove their value.
I agree, speaking as a writer, that it’s nice that writers are paid but nobody, and no profession is owed a living or immune from the reach of technology and change and we shouldn’t assume that just because somebody invests in something, devotes their life to it, trains for years, gets a huge loan from the bank or VC funding, or can’t do anything else that the market will so much as bat an eyelid.
We don’t have many type setters left, the night soil men are all gone from London and many, many very important pieces of computer code have become commoditised – not least operating systems and web servers – and are produced for free or as loss-leaders.
The fact is that users will pay for content in spades if they see sufficient value in it – iTunes and Netflix have both thrived in a world where YouTube, Napster, Gnutella and BitTorrent already existed.
If the ad revenue is dropping it just means that the value proposition for things like WIRED articles isn’t compelling enough and there might be nothing they can do about it – it has to survive in a world where a lot of good content is free because of state funding (e.g. BBC), because it’s open source and done for kudos (e.g Wikipedia) or because it’s being used as a promotion tool for software, books or speakers (e.g. Naked Security).
I wish WIRED well.
edit HTML, remove vail, remove no-scroll, read article 🙂
They changed this today so that the paragraphs disappear when the veil pops up.
My solution: Open article > Select all > Copy > Paste into text editor > Don’t pollute brain with adverts
Until they solve malvertizing and a ton of scripting and 10 different trackers what to load you down on every hit, I will just move on to the next site.
I have been visiting web sites on the Internet since 1994 and using the Internet since the late 1980’s. During this time I have never purchased any item as the result of clicking on a third party web ad. They are not loosing any money from me if I use an ad blocker. I blame Prodigy (aka Trintex) for starting the whole mess.
Steve Stone wrote “I blame Prodigy (aka Trintex) for starting the whole mess.”
What? You didn’t like that cute little VW Pfarvergnugen animation that ran across the bottom of the screen?
I am sure it won’t be long before “undetectable” Ad Blocking software is available. It takes all the ads, like a “good browser should”, then quietly discards them rather than displaying them.
For sites that I visit very frequently, I am willing (& have for years, for wunderground.com – $5 annually) pay the small annual fee to be free of ads. Interesting in the weather underground case, the one fee covers both the desktop and mobile versions of the site. No, this is not an ad for wunderground.com :+)
The worst adds (covers the page, auto play media) I figure out their serving IP (netstat-an, then do a Who is) and block them at my firewall. So far only one site won’t let me through to content, so I don’t go there anymore.
For me the decision to block ads or not really depends on two things. First, if the ads are annoying and get in the way of the actual content I’m there for, the ad blocker is on and I’ll go elsewhere if required to view ads to access the site. Second, if I see ads pushing scams or that are misleading I’m going to block them and/or go somewhere else. The bottom line is I don’t mind seeing reasonable ads that support a site, but I don’t want to be constantly bombarded with annoying, potentially dangerous ads.
Although I can appreciate your altruistic philosophy, by the time you spot a potentially dangerous ad it’s too late. Your system is now infected.
Ad-blocker shields UP!
I am surprised at the number of people who are anti-ad to the point of abandoning the site. It costs money to run a site and provided the ads are reasonable and not intrusive ( not always the case) then expecting readers to either subscribe or allow ads seems a fair “quid pro quo” to me.
As others have mentioned, my biggest problem is not the ads themselves, but the serious drop in performance while ads that I’m not going to look at anyway are loaded. This is especially true when I’m looking at stuff at/for work, because as the local Tech Support Specialist I often have to go to sites such as Amazon or Staples to price-compare tech for my users.
ashlayne wrote ” my biggest problem is not the ads themselves, but the serious drop in performance while ads that I’m not going to look at anyway are loaded.”
Not to mention the memory leaks these ads cause. Seems like I’m always killing a browser or tab because it’s consumed over 1GB of memory. Whatever happened to code without memory leaks?
But you should not be so surprised. Most web advertisibg is very offensive and obnoxious. But the advertising geniuses who auto launch video are too narrow minded and full of themselves to ever figure this out.
the problem is that one one polices the ad’s you can even get spyware from google’s partner ad’s. This is a big problem, and no one is willing to tackle it. long live ad blocking
My biggest problem with a site liked WIRED is the AMOUNT of ads they load. With an ad blocker it takes a second or two to load the site, but when I turn off my ad-blocker it can take 30-45 seconds, loading script after script after script! There’s no way they can vet everything that loads on a single page load, giving many avenues for bad actors to potentially exploit my browser. If they would cut down the number of ads and calls, and not cause such a negative impact on my experience, I’d consider adding them to my ad-blocker white list. I honestly hope this backfires and blows up in their face, because this is not how things are supposed to be done. Instead of forcing their way down our throat, maybe they should ask what the consumer wants and try to cater toward the consumer instead.
I really think that’s the biggest problem here, is that companies have been so used to just shoving ads down consumers’ throats and not doing ANYTHING to combat malvertising (other than saying, it’s not our fault, by the way here’s another half dozen ads you’re forced to load) that consumers have reached a point where they’re completely fed up with the whole model. While WIRED has some good content, their content isn’t worth 50 bucks a year and it’s not worth having such a negative (and threat-filled landscape) browsing experience. Sorry WIRED, until you change your business practices you’ve lost this reader.
Advertising doesn’t have to be so malevolent, invasive or prevalent, nothing is worse than going to a site an having to find the content among the adverts, flashing, moving, videos, popovers, etc. Wired is taking the wrong approach and it is likely going to backfire, nobody likes a draconian approach. All these concerned sites should be pushing the Advertisers to standardize and revolutionize, after all, the sites are not the only ones to loose. Standardization would benefit all parties, the public could breath a little easier, sites would not be blocked and advertisers would continue to peddle their crap.
Having said that, I never really understood advertising in the first place. Are there really that many people that click on them? (outside of click scammers that is) I don’t think I’ve ever seen an advert I actually wanted to click on!? 99% are for crap I don’t want, need or desire. It reminds me a lot of the early days of email, remember when 3 out of 4 emails were for penis enlargements or “cheap” prescription drugs? Thanks to applications like MailWasher Pro and other methods, I haven’t seen a piece of spam like that in years, same thing here with site advertising.
Will Wired be responsible if their ads carry malware? AdBlockers are a first line of defense and the only line of defense for many. Jonathan @NC3mobi
Since I can get that content any number of ways, it’s an oddly petulant and short sighted response from Wired to send users away if they block ads that for the most part may only appeal to a small percentage of readers anyway. And won’t that affect the metrics used to attract advertisers and justify ad rates? Interesting experiment in an already tough industry.
Instead of encouraging deeper user engagement – offer an incentive to me to unblock SOME ads on the site thereby lowering their bounce rate – which would allow more opportunity advertise, they say screw you – we don’t want you at all. Well good luck with that….
Malware comes in through ads. We’ve had to recover from Cryptowall twice. Last time on our Corporate network 40,000 files were encrypted on network drives. We didn’t pay, but recovery is still work. So no, I wont be turning off my adblocker.
How about this, you mr website developer, you process ads at the server, and simply host me up an image from your site. That I would still see, and I wouldn’t have to kill my defences.
Viewing your site, or me possibly working a 32 hr shift cleaning up a virus on our 500 corporate pc’s. Which is more important?
“mr website developer, you process ads at the server, and simply host me up an image from your site.”
That sounds like a great idea. If the add was getting served to the page host and not the endpoint from the advertiser, no scripts (beside being clickable) would run, now java script or flash. I think you are really onto something that would be a whole new content delivery method. I hope someone that would try and implement that is reading this. Data bandwidth savings could make this very impressive too.
There are tons of better ways to implement advertising, but they decided to declare war on users. Greed is the driving factor driving them to be ever more intrusive. I might be interested in a subscription if there were more than one site available, kind of like cable was supposed to be ad free in the beginning. But again, greed took over and now the cord cutter movement is here. As long as the ad industry refuses to be reasonable, the security conscious will avoid any attempt to be corralled.
Website owners need to sell ad space to individual companies like radio and plain old TV stations do. Even magazines offer a better models which would be better for websites that offer similar materials. Notice that those are filled with tons of ads. Now, Flipboard does a good job of presenting ads, and others should take notice.
Advertisers are just NOT listening to us users. That’s the whole problem in a nut shell!
I would stop using the site. In addition to this, I would BLOCK the site itself from my UTM.
My only problem with the subscription policy is the price. Wired wants $1/week. That is $52/yr, way too much in my opinion. A person can subscribe to the print version for $24/yr, way less than what Discovery wants for the ad-free in-line version.
Not sure how they implement the detection for adblocking. I use EFF’s Privacy Badger that uses a learning algorithm to block tracking by sites and in the process will block ads that track you as well. When using UBlock, I get the paywall message blocking access to content unless I whitelist the site, but with privacy badger, the paywall message does not trigger and I see no ads.
Of course, if you go and install privacy badger just now after reading this, it may not immediately block the ads from Wired because it will need some time to learn the tracking behavior of the ads as you go to different sites and Wired’s cookies and trackers try to follow you around. Use it for a bit (day or so of browsing) and you will stop seeing ads on Wired.com
Wired just spews already known and documented content. You really think we cant find another website with this content.. oh wail already did.
It’s hard to disagree or agree with what they’re doing. I use an ad-blocker, and have ever since I could do so; I don’t even use a browser unless forced to without an ad-blocker.. I’m also not someone who ever clicks ads; all they get from me is a pageload, which shouldn’t be a problem. I can’t say that behavior has changed since 1998 when ads started being a thing.
But I also don’t believe in the long-term viability of web-based advertisements anyway as a business or revenue model.
At the end of the day, I won’t be able to read Wired content, but then again, I’ve not read their content in years and have little need to. And when I do read anything, it’s by picking up the magazine in the book store and putting it back (without paying for it) after flipping through it and realizing they’re not as interesting as they were 9 years ago.
One interesting additional topic for this might be how interesting RSS feeds may become again? Can I consume Wired content via an RSS feed? That also was a preferred way to consume for me until Google Reader folded years ago; it also allowed me to skip ads (which is probably, in my estimation, the major contributor to its shuttering) and not even load target sites.
The fix is quite simple. When you browse to a Wired article it takes about 30 seconds for the site to detect your blocker and the paywall to pop-up. So I print the article to PDF and read offline.
Thanks ! I noticed that Firefox Reader View is doing exactly the same. Same for MS Edge.
How egotistical of Wired to think that users won’t just look at the countless other sources for tech news instead. Wired has clearly been in a decline over recent years and for me this is the last nail in the coffin.
I didn’t start blocking adds until they went too far with them.
If you are going to pop up random *** videos when I’m trying to speed read an article on break and then throw off my entire trail.
Well, sir, you can take your publication, shove it up *** *** for all I care. I didn’t mind you making your cut off of me until you started allowing bad adds, and completely obnoxious ads onto your site.
Get more secure, get less greedy, and I’ll share my slice of pie with you. But if these companies can’t be trusted to find a happy middle ground, and a SAFE one at that. They will get no bone from me, I’ll still consume all of my content with or without your permission.
Website got too greedy and ads became too annoying. I went to Wired on Friday and the notice came up. So no more Wired.
Another dangerous step forward in the game of crapitalizm
Pretty much repeating what others have said but the problem is the advertisers. No one minds a random ad at the side of the screen, but when they pop up video or sound if is very annoying . The targeted ads are annoying too. Those ones that can access your browser history and show ads based on what you looked at yesterday. That feels like a major invasion of privacy. so no, I will not add a site to my whitelist. I will just move on,.
If the ads are moderated I don’t really mind. I use ad blockers because of caustic and obnoxious ads like autoplay videos et all. If a page start to moderate what ads is put on their site and only allow ones that aren’t obnoxious, I don’t mind the ads. I am ad blind but if someone wants to pay for the illusion that I pay attention to them or would ever click one simply because they are displayed that’s fine by me. I get my content and they get their illusions on and everybody leaves happy.
75.74% voting Stop using the website
WTF… how Wired can survive, if nobody see the ads? stupid people
That’s a stupid idea of wired. They can earn money by publishing paid articles and feature them to their site for the company who is interested in advertising with them.
Until the stupid and offensive ads stop I will continue to use ad blockers. While newspapers always has had advertisements, they maintain some standards of taste and decency. Plus newspaper ads never blocked the entire field of view and demanded the attention of readers like banner ads.
Online advertisers need to learn some respect for consumers. You are like a door-to-door salesman that won’t go away. Marketers don’t own the internet, you have no right to follow me around and shove your sales pitch down my throat.
Online ads have become like a scene from “A Clockwork Orange.”
Wired: Simply not worth turning off my adblocker for.
I’ll let you display ads if you directly embed it in html with and you don’t use animated or overlay ads.
The only reason I ever subscribed to the magazine was because they locked some of the online content; having a login with an active subscription was sufficient to get me in. I never even opened the magazine’s plastic, I just got online. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last several years. I have noticed the quality of the content declining over the last few years but I let it ride.
Now they say I’m not “supporting their journalism.” What; having a paid subscription for the last 7 or so years is no longer good enough, now they want an additional $52 per year? Besides that, I can’t white-list them or “turn off my ad blocker” even if I wanted to, because I don’t have one; it is our corporate web filter that is blocking access to some of their ads, entries that are largely dictated by the federal government. Not allowed to modify/delete them!
So, see ya, Wired. Oh wait, no I won’t. There is literally no longer a valid reason to keep the subscription, and I apparently will never see your content online again. No great loss, sadly.
A lot has been said on the matter, but I think people are forgetting something very important.
Mobile browsing experience gets affected the most from ads.
I’m not entirely sure how much people browse on their phone (though my bet is over 50%), however, I’m pretty sure everyone who does will agree with me on this one.
Last time I did some calcs, without an ad-blocker, my data plan rose to nearly 1Gb over a month span. Then I used my ad-blocker, and my data plan reduced to aproximately 350-400 Mb, which I find reasonable enough.
My point? Advertisements uses a lot of resources and takes over half of bandwidth. And this backfires on my pay bill.
So no, until advertisements aren’t optimized for a non-intrusive and bandwidth-friendly experience, I’m not disabling my ad-blocker, regardless of the website.
I would turn off my add blocker if asked.
Incognito /private browsing does the trick.