From Katie Benner and Sydney Ember of the New York Times this morning:

Just two days after Apple enabled ad-blocking apps through its new mobile operating system, iOS 9, users are embracing the new technology after long complaining that the ads track them, slow down web browsers and are just plain annoying. In less than 48 hours, several ad-blocking apps with names like Peace, Purify and Crystal soared to the top of Apple’s App Store chart.

Publishers of legal perodicals have long relied on advertising revenue. First with web site banners and today with mobile ads that load before the content and prompt the user to close.

Legal blog publications such as Lawyerist and Above the Law rely almost exclusively on advertising for revenue. A few lawyers such as Carolyn Elefant and Bob Ambrogi are able to generate ad sales, though they are not self sufficient publishers.

David Jacobs, chief executive of 29th Street Publishing, told the Times that ad blocking will be hard on small publishers.

There are definitely some small publishers out there that make 50 percent to 75 percent of their revenue from ads, and they have margins of about 10 percent. Publishers will really need another way to make money.

Jacobs also shared the obvious, that readers ought think about how much content they get for free. There’s going to have to be some relationship between readers and publishers which enables publishers to get for what they do.

Sam Glover, editor and co-founder of Lawyerist commented on his dilemma on Twitter yesterday:

https://twitter.com/samglover/status/645060257568321536

Glover’s right that he’s been pretty respectful with ads. I am a regular reader of Lawyerist and do not recall ever being bothered by ads.

There’s always been the discussion of blocking “bad advertising” online and leaving the good. With ad blocking apps it doesn’t look like there will be much distinction between good and bad.

Sponsorship and support of publishers has to continue in some context. Lawyerist and Above the Law make the point of thanking their advertisers and supporters regularly. Readers support that arrangment.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see ads in text copy within stories that don’t get blocked. “This story brought to you by our friends at Clio, a leading cloud-based case management solution and host of Clio Cloud Conference in Chicago on October 19 and 20.” (Send me my check Jack)

I don’t know how this is going to play out, but it’s curveball thrown to publishers by over reaching advertisers.

I am optimistic though that something’s going to give and that we’re not going to see the end of mobile publishing, just as we did not see the end of web publishing with ad blocking on desktop browsers years ago.

  • Kevin, so, legal periodicals that rely on advertising revenue to survive–don’t you think they just start weaving ads into their stories–sort of like the Coke cans and other produce placements you see in movies?

    • They’ll figure out some way to weather this, weaving in ads to copy is one way. Note that the largest seller of ad blocking apps already pulled their apps because of the impact to small publishers.