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Google Expands Ad-Blocker-Aware Soft Paywall for Publishers

Google’s answer to ad blockers is simple: Just ask consumers to turn them off.

Surprisingly, this seems to be working, at least for publishers that have participated in Google’s Ad Choices program. The initiative, which launched last June in beta, gives publishers technical tools to identify users who have ad blocking software enabled, and then address them directly with customized messaging.

Publishers can choose to just nicely ask to turn off ad blockers, and make their case for funding journalism. The can also use Google’s tools to install a gated paywall, allowing consumers to read 10 or so articles for free each month. Or they can completely block access to the site until users have turned their ad blocker off.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Google

“Millions of ad blocking users every month are now choosing to see ads on publisher websites, or ‘whitelisting’ that site, after seeing a Funding Choices message,” wrote Google product manager Varun Chirravuri in a blog post Monday. “In fact, in the last month over 4.5 million visitors who were asked to allow ads said yes, creating over 90 million additional paying page views for those sites.”

Participating publishers also offer consumers to buy a so-called funding pass through the Google Contributor program, which essentially gives them an ad-free version of the website, for a per-page price determined by the publisher. Popular Mechanics, for instance, charges $0.01 per ad-free web page, whereas Business Insider U.K. charges $0.04 per page.

Right now, there are only a few dozen publishers participating in funding choices, but Google clearly wants the program to grow. That’s why the company on Monday announced en expansion of the program to 31 additional countries. In addition, it also started to test an integration with paywalls operated by publishers.

“Ad blockers designed to remove all ads from all sites are making it difficult for publishers with good ad experiences to maintain sustainable businesses,”Chirravuri said. “Our goal for Funding Choices is to help publishers get paid for their work by reducing the impact of ad blocking on them, and we look forward to continuing to expand the product availability.”

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