The New York Times (NYT) is considering the introduction of a premium, ad-free subscription model for users who are willing to pay to avoid ads.
The twin proposition of an ad-funded free service alongside an ad-free subscription package has been pushed into the mainstream by music streaming apps like Spotify, with Soundcloud recently launching a similar concept.
In the video space, YouTube last year announced YouTube Red, allowing users to avoid ads in exchange for a $9.99 monthly subscription, while in publishing Forbes has pioneered an “ad-light” version for users disabling their ad blockers. However, completely ad-free environments would mark a new direction for the industry.
NYT chief executive Mark Thompson reportedly told the IAB Ad Blocking & User Experience Summit that the newspaper group is “exploring the possibility” of a “higher-tier” subscription model that will exempt users from seeing ads.
“We do want to offer all of our users as much choice as we can, and we recognise that there are some users – both subscribers and non-subscribers – who would prefer to have an ad-free experience,” said Thompson, according to an Ad Age report.
The publisher has already trialled methods to combat the threat of ad blockers, using pop-up messages to request that users ‘whitelist’ the site if they are using an ad blocker or sign-up for a digital subscription.
Thompson reportedly claimed that over a third of users who received “undismissable” requests agreed to whitelist the newspaper’s site, while “no fewer than 30%” of those with dismissable requests also agreed to whitelist NYT.