Ad blockers are a big topic of conversation as of late and for good reason. Their prevalence could upset much about how the “free internet” works for a majority of publishers and supporting advertisers.
But Yahoo decided to test the waters late last week. A flock of folks complained on web forums and social media that they were “blocked from their Yahoo email accounts unless they switched off their ad blockers,” reported the New York Times’ tech blog.
“The issue seems to have first appeared early on Thursday when ‘portnoyd,’ a user on the AdBlock Plus online support forum, was served a pop-up with an ultimatum: Turn off your ad blocker, or forget about getting to your email,” noted the NYT. “Yahoo confirmed the reports, which were discovered by Digiday. Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., did not say how many users were affected.”
It wasn’t a glitch or a hoax. Yahoo went there. It blocked ad blockers.
“At Yahoo, we are continually developing and testing new product experiences,” Anne Yeh, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said in a statement. “This is a test we’re running for a small number of Yahoo Mail users in the U.S.”
This is just the latest in a series of developments that have made ad blocking a critical concern. Apple’s announcement in the fall, for instance, that it would enable ad blocking on the mobile web through its iOS9 mobile operating system, caused a stir of its own.
Additionally, reports throughout the summer of increased ad blocking by users elicited much handwringing, too.
“Many in the industry say that the increased focus on ad blocking has spurred some publishers to reconsider their advertising models, particularly for their mobile sites,” according to the NYT. “Besides Yahoo, some publishers are considering ways to strip out or reduce traditional web display ads on both desktop and mobile sites, and instead generate revenue through sponsorships or so-called native advertising.”
Last, but not least, it isn’t the kind of publicity Yahoo really needs. The company is battling uphill after “years of waning search and advertising revenue and a decrease in traffic to its homepage, once a major destination in the world of digital media.”