WIRED to Offer Ad-Free Reading…for a Price

wired-websiteWant to use an ad blocker on their site? It’s gonna cost ya.

What’s $1 worth these days?

For Conde Nast’s WIRED readers, $1 can mean an online ad-free experience.

CN executives are so frustrated by the nearly ubiquitous ad-blocking browser extensions readers are using, they are willing to try tactics to boost readership that they likely would not have given a second thought a year or two ago.

D.B. Hubbard of Talking New Media reports that WIRED editors brainstormed two possible solutions for engaging more readers. They could add WIRED to the list of websites their ad-blocker will ignore, or begin paying for ad-free access to WIRED’s content.

“The way they will do this is by creating a new paywalled website, built just for readers who use ad blockers,” says Hubbard. To get past the paywall without changing or deleting the ad blocker, readers will need to pay $1 a week for access.

CN is banking on the loyalty of readers, and industry watchers aren’t too sure that’s a smart decision. Without a doubt, some readers will simply drift away. Others – those who pay for annual print subscriptions – will protest the need to pay an additional fee for an ad-free experience online.

CN is not alone in this fight: Forbes.com recently rolled out their “ad light” policy for their readers with ad blockers. Turn off your ad blocker, and they’ll only give you a few ads.

WIRED’s move toward an ad-free online experience also doesn’t address the remaining consistent complaints users have about online magazine content.

As Hubbard explains, “The editors have failed to really address the issue readers have, that these magazine websites are slow to load, filled with obnoxious advertising, and really are not providing readers a good product. Imagine if every full page of editorial content in the print magazine contained a small ad placed in the middle of the page? No designer would do that, yet online all the rules of good editing are ignored in pursuit of incremental digital ad revenue.”

We understand the frustration; we just don’t know if this is the solution that will work.