Top internet ad-blocker starts selling its own adverts in 'cynical move' to 'get into ad sales business'

Adblock Plus co-founder Till Faida

The company behind the most downloaded online ad-blocking software is to release its own advertising sales platform in what has been described as a “cynical move”.

Adblock Plus, which is used on more than 100m devices, yesterday launched the beta version of its Acceptable Ads Platform ahead of a full release this autumn.

Ad-blocking has disrupted publishers’ ability to create revenue from digital display advertising. It was said to be putting “severe pressure” on the UK news media industry in the 2016 Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

According to figures from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) released earlier this year, more than one in five British adults are now using ad-blockers.

The Acceptable Ads platform uses a “whitelist” of pre-approved online ad types – such has being not too intrusive and distinguishable – that can be selected by companies through a real-time bidding process.

Non-compliant adverts will still be blocked and the acceptable ads feature can be turned off completely, according to the company.

It added that users can also offer feedback on an acceptable advert which if negative will see it “punished on the auction” and if positive will see it “rewarded”.

Till Faida (pictured), co-founder of Adblock Plus, said: “There are two ecosystems of online consumers out there right now: the one composed of people who block intrusive ads and the other where people do not.

“The Acceptable Ads Platform lets publishers reach the former group without changing anything about how they’re reaching the latter.

“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.”

 

Publishers will keep 80 per cent of ad revenue, The Verge has reported.

Guy Phillipson, head of the IAB, said: “Adblock Plus, who spent years as the consumer champion squashing adverts – now sell ads.

“We see the cynical move from Adblock Plus as a new string in their racket. Now they’re saying to publishers ‘we took away some of your customers who didn’t want ads, and now we are selling them back to you on commission’.

“The fact is, in the UK ad blocking has stalled. It’s been stuck at 21 per cent throughout 2016 because the premium publishers who own great content, and provide a good ad experience, hold all the cards.

“More and more of them are offering ad-blocking consumers a clear choice: turn off your ad blocking software or no access to our content. And their strategy is working, with 25 per cent to 40 per cent turning off their blockers.

“So with their original business model running out of steam, Adblock Plus have gone full circle to get into the ad sales business.”

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