Adblock Plus Launches Ad Platform, Things Quickly Go Awry  

Sep 15, 2016

Adblock Plus has quickly established itself as the leading adblocking software provider—and an enemy of publishers everywhere. As the popularity of the software grew so did the severity of publishers’ response to it, and its users. Some publishers went so far as to bad people using the software from their sites. Facebook announced last month that it would start blocking the adblockers—a plan that was quickly foiled. But the writing was on the wall. Publishers were not going to take this adblocking problem lying down.

For its part, Adblock Plus apparently thought the solution to this problem would be to launch its own Acceptable Ads Platform—with the help of ComboTag—with preapproved ads that publishers could easily plug into their sites, and serve to Adblock Plus users who had opted to see acceptable ads. Adblock Plus would take a 30% share of revenue generated, though it would not directly sell ads—just facilitate publishers to more easily serve whitelisted ads via DSPs.

Apparently, however, Adblock Plus had not thought to hash out the details with the large ad exchanges it needs cooperation from. ComboTag worked with Google and AppNexus, both of which came of decisively against the Acceptable Ads Platform soon after the announcement. AdAge reported, “Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior VP of ads and commerce at Google, said the company was taken totally by surprise when AdBlock Plus and ComboTag announced on Monday that they would offer an ad exchange that served web ads to ad-blocking consumers.” Ramaswamy also reported it would stop working with ComboTag. AppNexus followed suit.

Meanwhile, Adblock Plus’ users weren’t exactly thrilled. Nerds magazine declared, “Adblock Plus Destroys Image by Selling Ads.”

“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,” said Till Faida, a co-founder of Adblock Plus in a press release. “The Acceptable Ads Platform lets publishers reach the former group without changing anything about how they’re reaching the latter.” Unless the Acceptable Ads Platform makes a quick recovery, we may never even know whether publishers would have embraced the chance to reach those elusive, adblocking users.