I Pay for News; Why Do I Still See Intrusive Ads?


I subscribe to a number of news publications on the web. I get some of my news from The New York Times, I read news and current events from The New Yorker, and there are a few smaller websites I subscribe to.

So why do I still see intrusive ads on these sites? And even more perplexing; why do some sites, like The New Yorker, ask me to subscribe, even though I’m a subscriber and I’m signed into my account?

Here’s an example of The New Yorker today:

New yorker

Above the fold is a massive Google ad, nearly as big as the featured article at the top of the page. I’ve blurred it, so as not to give that company a free ad on my site, but it’s something about building websites. Not the kind of ad I’d expect to see on The New Yorker, but, hey, that’s Google ads for you. Making the best websites look skeevy.

More perplexing is the ad for a New Yorker subscription at the top left; they know I’m signed in, it’s just stupid to display this ad.

Further down on the page – not included in this screenshot – was a big ad for Condé Nast magazines (the New Yorker is part of that group), but, as I was writing this article, it changed to an Amazon ad showing me products I have recently looked at. And it keeps changing, cycling through a number of ads.

The New York Times is only marginally better. A big banner ad for a luxury brand at the top of the page, plus two smaller ads for the same brand. And if I click through to an article, there’s a massive ad for a slipper (and I’ve seen this ad a hundred times), and several Amazon ads as I scroll down the page. But it gets worse, because those slipper ads are animated. These are the worst type of ads, the ones that distract you and make it harder to read the news you have paid for.

New york times

So, even though I pay to read the news, I still have to use an ad blocker. These companies are somewhat stupid, by subjecting readers to exactly the same intrusive ads if they subscribe as if they don’t. (Of course, you only get a limited number of free articles per month if you don’t subscribe.) They don’t make the reading experience as good as it could be, and they make me not want to use their iOS apps, because I can’t block ads if I’m not using a browser.

By the way, I could count on the fingers of two hands the number of times I have intentionally clicked on a web ad on a publication like this. They are rarely relevant to me.

We need good journalism, and I’m more than happy to pay for it. But we also need to be treated like the paying subscribers we are, and not have crappy ads getting in our way and distracting us. I had thought these media companies had learned something, but apparently they haven’t.