Enlarge / Adblock Plus CEO Till Faida at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016.Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch
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Eyeo GmbH, the company that makes the popular Adblock Plus software, will today start selling the very thing many of its users hate—advertisements. Today, the company is launching a self-service platform to sell “pre-whitelisted” ads that meet its “acceptable ads” criteria.
The new system will let online publishers drag and drop advertisements that meet Eyeo’s expectations for size and labeling.
“The Acceptable Ads Platform helps publishers who want to show an alternative, nonintrusive ad experience to users with ad blockers by providing them with a tool that lets them implement Acceptable Ads themselves,” said Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus.
Publishers who place the ads will do so knowing that they won’t be blocked by most of the 100 million Adblock Plus users.
The software extension’s default setting allows for “acceptable ads” to be shown, and more than 90 percent of its users don’t change that default setting.
Eyeo started its “acceptable ads” program in 2011. With the new platform, it hopes to automate and scale up a process that until now has been a cumbersome negotiation. What once could take weeks, the company boasts in today’s statement, now “takes only seconds.”
The company has a list of criteria for what makes an ad acceptable, including size and placement limitations. Most acceptable ads are simple text, but Eyeo says images “may qualify as acceptable, according to an evaluation of their unobtrusiveness based on their integration on the webpage.” The acceptable ads system also provides Eyeo with its main revenue source. Large companies that use its white-listing system must pay a cut of the revenue they earn on those ads to Eyeo.
“We’ve been waiting years for the ad-tech industry to do something consumer-friendly like this, so finally we got tired of waiting and decided to just do it ourselves,” said Faida.
Eyeo won’t say which companies meet its criteria for white-listing advertisements.
Citing a source close to the company, The Wall Street Journal reported that paying customers include Google, Microsoft, and Taboola.
Ad-blocking software is increasing widespread, but it continues to rankle publishers, who resist the notion that Adblock Plus should get paid for white-listing ads.
It’s been clear for some time that if ad-blocking companies want to start selling ads, the technology is there.
Earlier this year, Adblock showed its users Amnesty International ads promoting free speech—in the same spaces it had removed ads chosen by the publisher. (Adblock and Adblock Plus are different products.)
“It does blur the line,” said Ben Williams, head of operations for Adblock Plus, at the time.
A 2015 study by PageFair and Adobe found that 16 percent of the US online population blocked ads, while 21 percent blocked ads in the UK.
In several European countries, rates of ad-blocking topped 25 percent.