Should you be prepping for a subscription-based future?
One of the major developments of 2015 is the sudden spike in ad-blocking software. In October, I wrote that Web publishing had seen the tipping point for ad blockers — in other words, we’ve crossed a threshold that we can’t cross back over. Use of ad blockers has started reaching mid-level users (instead of being a feature used only by the tech-savvy among us). And that means that consumers will soon come to expect this feature. Furthermore, if Firefox or Chrome were to cease their support of ad-blocking software, a new browser would pop up and gobble up the dissatisfied consumers.
Nope, we’re not going back to an ad-supported publishing system.
Where are we going? I’m glad you asked.
As this trend continues, it’s pretty easy to extrapolate a logical outcome:
You’re going to see more and more sites switch to either some sort of subscription model or a pledge-driven system like Patreon — they’ll have to. There will be no ad revenue to support the site.
“Free” websites are going to start to disappear — except for sites with very low-quality content. And those sites are going to struggle to build an audience.
For those sites with strong content, I’m predicting a much better business climate. Those sites will increase their bottom lines. Having experienced both, I’ve noticed that a subscription model pays much better than an ad-driven one. I’ll hate it as a consumer, but, as a Web publisher, it will be pretty good.
Pirating will increase, but it will be so much easier to prove monetary damages, that prosecuting piracy will become much more prevalent (and effective) as well.
In a way, ad blockers could lead to a great new era for digital publishers.
It might be wise to start preparing for that.