MIAMI — The Washington Post says it is trying hard to show ads that don’t suck – it’s other people’s ads that are the problem.

WaPo made headlines late last year, when, like some other publishers, it began serving a range of responses to users running ad blocking software – from email captures to subscription invitations.

“At some point, you do have to pay for the content – either with ads or a subscriber model, or not being able to access the content,” The Washington Post’s senior director of product strategy and operations, Jeff Burkett, tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “Luckily, we are producing the kind of content people are willing to pay for.”

Ad blocking indicators vary by research house. One recent stat shows 27% of Italians use the software, for instance. The practice has received a boost from Apple’s support for web content blocker add-ons in iOS 9.

For Burkett, the rise and rise of ad blocking is a symptom of a clear cause – bad ads.

“Ad blocking is, in some ways, very good for us in the publishing space,” he says. “While we may lose some revenue … Consumers are using ad blockers to communicate back to us ‘this is not the right experience for us’. We finally are all waking up to this fact.”

So WaPo has been working on delivering pages where the “ads and content fit together”, where “the ads aren’t repulsive”, Burkett adds: “While we may have a fantastic ad experience on the Post, all it takes is of someone to go to another site that’s terrible and they decide to install an ad blocker.”

A quick survey of Twitter users’ views shows ongoing frustration, however…


This video was recorded at the 4A’s Transformation conference in Miami. For additional interviews, please visit this page. Beet.TV’s coverage of the 4A’s was sponsored by The Trade Desk.