September 20, 2016
Adblock, the company that blocks online advertising, is now introducing a service that allows website operators to run ads. Adblock Plus’s new service is an extension of the Acceptable Ads program debuted in 2011. A so-called acceptable ad, vetted by Adblock, is smaller, less brash and intrusive and thus, in principle, less irritating. The number of ads in this marketplace, which just debuted in beta, is limited because of how time-consuming it is to vet ads. The service will come out of beta later in 2016.
The Verge says Adblock Plus’ operations and communications director Ben Williams notes that the program “limits how many websites can sign up to display ads to would-be blockers.”
“It allows you to treat the two different ecosystems completely differently and monetize each one,” he explains. “And crucially, monetize the ad blockers on their own terms.” Now, even when the user has the blocker turned on, it serves “whitelisted” ads.
Because the new marketplace provides already-vetted ads, Adblock Plus “hopes that … there’ll be a big expansion in the usage of Acceptable Ads.”
The acceptable ads are not “able to track visitors from site to site, and they’ll all be limited to certain dimensions and page locations, as defined by Adblock Plus’ guidelines.” Adblock Plus also divvies up the profits: publishers keep 80 percent and the rest is divided among several parties, with Adblock receiving 6 percent.
Though the ad program is intended to mollify publishers, it’s not an ideal solution from their point of view, especially since “acceptable ads are likely to be less valuable than the ads a publisher could otherwise display, limiting what a website can earn.” One publisher that’s consistently managed to find ways around Adblock Plus is Facebook. As reported by TechCrunch, Facebook continues to circumvent it after building its first “workaround” in two days.
Facebook last broke through a month ago, and the Silicon Valley company’s advertising is still getting through. ABP “can’t build filters fast enough when Facebook has total control over the code it serves,” reports TechCrunch. “They have basically removed every identifier that’s findable in the first level of ads,” said Williams, who fears that Facebook ads may soon be “indistinguishable from content to its users as well.”
Will the new Acceptable Ads program turn the tide? “Acceptable ads was a pivot toward what we think is better,” said Williams. Adblock Plus is also creating a “committee of publishers, privacy advocates, and advertisers” to determine future Acceptable Ad guidelines.