World Association of News Publishers

Publishers Form Global Task Force on Ad Blocking, Call for Principles and Guidelines

Publishers Form Global Task Force on Ad Blocking, Call for Principles and Guidelines


The world’s leading news publishers are calling for an international task force to respond to the increasing use of ad blocking technology, and for the adoption of on-line advertising principles and guidelines that respect users and help sustain independent news publishing as an essential component of democratic society.

"The growing use of ad blocking software by Internet and mobile users around the world is severely jeopardizing the digital advertising ecosystem, but they also threaten the open Web in open societies," said the publishers during the meeting of an international task force convened by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) in Paris, France, on Friday 11th December.

The Task Force  -- comprised of publishers in Europe, North America and Asia –  supported by the WAN-IFRA will operate as a knowledge center for publishers to share best practices, and facilitate discussion among other international trade bodies, stakeholders. It will act as a unifying voice, with the task of supporting the industry on both global and local levels.

For more information, or to join the initiative, please contact Ben Shaw, Director of Global Advisory, WAN-IFRA,

The significant rise in ad blocking over the past year has highlighted a substantial threat to advertising revenue for news sites, both on desktop and mobile. This has become a technical, legal and PR battleground in recent months for European and US publishers. The WAN-IFRA initiative addresses the need for global coordination to address the threat to news publishers' capacity to provide the independent and credible news that is crucial role to open societies.

If ads continue to obscure content, slow websites, pry into data and break the audience’s trust with publishers and editors, then any global technology platform company will have the opportunity to step in and set rules that need to be defined by the publishers and their advertising partners. Publishers’ most precious asset is the trust and goodwill of their audience. If publishers allow the technology platform companies to become the gatekeepers of news content, then they will find themselves relegated to the role of commodity producers rather than trusted brands.

Users will likely accept this because the experience will appear to be better. But it will be the death of the open Web, and an end to publishers’ direct relationship with their audience.  Publishers must remain masters of their own fates, and shepherd the trust and goodwill of their audience. The place where they can do that is the open Web.

The first 20 years of online advertising helped fuel the growth of the Internet, but have also been partly marked by a deterioration of the audience experience. Publishers, who are paying journalists, artists and other creators to produce content, were understandably intent upon maximizing revenue from the content they provided to readers and viewers online for free. But, as a result, many digital platforms have permitted advertising of increased volume and interruption. In parallel, a panoply of advertising technology companies have increasingly looked to harvest audience data, which benefited the publisher little and increased the risk of alienated audience members. And so, as more intrusive ads competed for attention, users will be increasingly interrupted, every advertisement will be worth less, and personal data will be misused more often.

Publishers have a renewed opportunity to redefine how advertising works, and save the mechanism of advertising that supports content on the open Web.

The WAN-IFRA initiative is an invitation to all publishers to join the global discussion on principles for the future environment for sustainable, unobtrusive advertising that respects users and sustains the future of news publishing.

Members of the Task Force believe there is a need for the global community of news publishers to support the following actions:

  1. Collect and share best practices and member case studies that have relevance to different market situations. Monitor national initiatives addressing ad blocking. These will form the basis for advice & resources for the wider publishing community;
  2. Determine which other industry and consumer bodies WAN-IFRA should align itself with, define the form and objectives for such collaborations, and express the views of news publishers in high level industry discussions on the development of new user-friendly ad units and related initiatives;
  3. Exchange ideas on common principles for a user-friendly ad experience that support a sustainable digital news ecosystem. Promote constructive actions within the industry to educate clients and agencies and build loyalty and trust among users;

 Members of the Task Force: 

  • Andreas Aspegren, Head of Aftonbladet Online, Sweden
  • Simone Branca, Head of Marketing, RCS Media Solutions, Italy
  • Stephanie Caspar, Verlagsgeschäftsführerin, WELT Gruppe, Germany
  • Phillip Crawley, Publisher & CEO, The Globe and Mail, Canada
  • Jean-Charles Falloux, Managing Director, Digital Media & Tech Innovation, Les Echos, France
  • Frédéric Filloux, Publisher, Monday Note, France
  • Michael Golden, Vice Chairman, The New York Times Company, US, 1st Vice Chairman WAN-IFRA
  • Gerald Grünberger, Managing Director, Verband Österreichischer Zeitungen, Austria. Chairman WAN-IFRA Association Directors Committee
  • Jens Mathiasson, Head of Strategy & Business Development B2B, Aftonbladet, Sweden
  • Rufus Olins, CEO, Newsworks, UK
  • Peter Soetens, Director Technology Digital News Media, Mediahuis, Belgium
  • Su Lin Tan, Deputy Head Digital Division, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore
  • Roberto Zanaboni, Head of Digital Advertising, RCS Media Group, Italy
  •  For WAN-IFRA:
  • Ben Shaw, Director of Global Advisory, Project Coordinator
  • Cecilia Campbell, Executive Programmes Editor & Communicator
  • Elena Perotti, Executive Director, Legal Affairs and External Relations
  • Vincent Peyrègne, CEO
  • Nick Tjaardstra, Deputy Director Global Advisor


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