As ad-blocking tools have started to go mainstream, websites that rely on ad revenue to pay the bills are having to find ways for users to turn it off. While blocking access to the site works for some businesses, the German publishing giant, Gruner + Jahr, came up with a new approach — humor them.
Gruner + Jahr runs a number of popular news sites, but when it came down to dealing with ad blockers on its main site, Stern, the company’s approach of blocking access wasn’t going to work, despite it working on some of its more specialized sites.
That left Gruner + Jahr having to take a more creative approach in finding a way to get users to opt back in to seeing advertising.
The solution was to mimic a popular anti-drug campaign in Germany, replacing sections of the site with some humor, hoping that it would sway some users.
A rotating banner at the top of the site features three popular figures: Stern editor-in-chiefs Christian Krug and Uli Jörges and a popular German blogger. one of the messages on the banner reads, “I was a heavy blocker, but now I’m not and I’m OK”, while another featuring a photo of the editor, with a black box covering his eyes, reads, “First Aid for ad blocker addicts” and follows with a fake help line.
Has the humorous approach paid off? Gruner + Jahr says that since launching the campaign, 22 percent of users decided to disable their ad blockers on the site.