Police committing crimes, cats barking like dogs—the Internet reveals a cornucopia of Bizarro-world reversals. The latest? Adblock Plus, one of the most-used ad-blocking apps, will begin serving its users web advertisements—the very thing they signed up to avoid.
Adblock Plus has launched the beta version of the Acceptable Ads Platform (AAP), according to German software company Eyeo GmbH’s Communications Manager Ben Williams. Teaming with platform provider ComboTag, AAP will allow publishers and bloggers to drag and drop pre-whitelisted ads onto their websites. The platform will operate on real-time bidding, though pricing isn’t clear yet.
In a recent blog post, Ben Williams said, “Our platform will turn this [RTB] model on its head, because instead of basing the auction winners on algorithms trying to figure out where you live, whether you like cool ranch or nacho cheese or where you just went on vacation, our system picks winners based on real feedback from real human beings…no one does it this way.”
There is an outcry that Adblock Plus is being dishonest, and is really an ad platform disguised in ad blocker clothing. Dave Grimaldi said, “No matter how Adblock Plus tries to justify their form of extortion, or make it seem harmless, it is a practice that will continue to erode the value exchange that powers the free and open Internet.”
Others, like PostUp Product Marketing Manager Andrea Bridges-Smith, point to the root cause of users blocking ads: “Whether they’re showing large page takeover ads or these acceptable ads, publishers need to have a good relationship with their audience in order to get them to turn off ad blockers or allow acceptable ads.”
Developers Michael McDonald and Wladimir Palant created the ad blocker nearly a decade ago—Palant was annoyed with intrusive ads that degraded a user’s online experience. In a 2007 interview, Palant laid out the types of intrusive ads his app crusades against: noise makers, animations, content interrupters, resource wasters and privacy invaders. But while he may be against a certain type of online advertising, he’s never completely been against ads, even saying that advertising “has its uses.” In 2011, Palant unveiled an ad whitelisting option for the software, and in 2015, the company helped form an independent committee to oversee the Acceptable Ads initiative.
The current APP only whitelists ads that meet the criteria Palant was originally against: annoyingness. Apparently, these acceptable ads are voted on by users. In an interview, co-founder Tim Schumacher spoke about the controversy saying the whitelisting is nothing new, and is a functionality Adblock Plus has had for years. “We’re not selling ads…the platform is a tool to help publishers monetize ad-blocker users…The problem hasn’t been created by us, [but] we’re the only ad blocker that gives the ability to recoup that revenue. If there was no whitelisting program, then essentially there’s no incentive for websites. There’s no revenue at all.”
Schumacher’s advice was for publishers to start making good ads.