Adblock Plus Reaches One Billion Downloads, Spars with IAB

Adblock Plus, from German firm Eyeo, is now on 100 million active devices and close to a billion downloads, says Eyeo co-founder/chief executive Till Faida. That’s significant growth from the beginning of the year, when the company reported 500 million downloads and 50 million active users. Adblock Plus also launched its “Acceptable Ads” program targeting larger websites; by whitelisting ads, Adblock Plus receives 30 percent of the additional revenue. Faida reports that 40 out of the top 100 U.S. websites are participating.

TechCrunch reports Eyeo is “forming a committee composed of stakeholders in the advertising industry, including journalists, publishers, ad tech companies and advertisers, to help better define what an acceptable ad actually is.” For now, says Faida, it is an ad that “cannot be disruptive,” such as “a screaming animation next to an article’s text.”

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The animosity between Adblock Plus and the Interactive Advertising Bureau is such that, at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, Faida and IAB chief executive Randall Rothenberg would not meet on stage; Rothenberg will not shake Faida’s hand in public. The two point fingers at each other for the state of online advertising.

“We’re in this mess because the IAB has failed to create an advertising ecosystem that is sustainable and healthy,” said Faida. “What we’re all about is empowering our users to have control over their browsing experience.”

TechCrunch quotes Rothenberg as saying that, “I have no argument against anybody using ad blockers because there is a kernel of right when it comes to the impedance of user experience… But as I’ve said before, this is an extortion-based business and hurts publishers.” He notes that, because Eyeo charges publishers to whitelist their “acceptable ads,” that Adblock Plus’ business model is to take publishers’ revenue and then “divert it into their own pockets.” At other times, he has said that ad blocking is a “threat to the free Web as we know it.”

But Rothenberg has also said that IAB is working with several ad-blocking companies, just not Eyeo, and notes that IAB is also working to address slow load times due to ads via its lean principles initiative. He also points out that, “the main problem here is that the IAB can’t exactly set standards and that the Internet’s open architecture does allow for anybody to get into the ad business.”

For its part, Eyeo debuted Flattr Plus, a user-centric payment system for content on the Web. “What has been missing so far is a payment system on the Web that works everywhere and is frictionless,” said Faida, who believes Flattr Plus will “grow to more than 10 million users by the end of next year, with users spending on average $5 per month to compensate publishers.”