Commentary

Yes, Adblock Plus Is Now In The Ad Sales Biz

Well, that didn’t take too long.

Adblock Plus, the company that saw itself as protecting consumers from bad, annoying, and intrusive advertising, is now in the ad business. Yes, it’s selling ads. Remember, Adblock Plus was designed to block ads.

Now, the company will begin selling what it calls “acceptable ads” to marketers at the same time as it continues to block ads that it finds intrusive. Eyeo GmbH, Adblock Plus’s parent company, partnered with an ad-tech firm to build a new ad exchange and has been testing it for the past month.

It seems like a flip flop, but maybe it’s just a decent business model. Diversify with ad sales.

Instead of deleting all ads, perhaps the company is just trying to create its own path and a new revenue stream. And perhaps it’s actually trying to create better, less interruptive advertising.

The company’s fledgling ad exchange will enable Web sites to choose “acceptable” ads and place them on their Web pages. “If a visitor using Adblock Plus comes to the page, they’ll be shown those ‘acceptable ads,’ instead of whatever ads the site would normally run,” according to a report in The Verge.

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The exchange is positioned as an extension of the Acceptable Ads program that Adblock Plus has run  since 2011. Since that time, the ad blocker began “whitelisting” approved ads, so that they appear even when consumers have an ad blocker turned on. The Verge reports that “the program has been fairly limited in scope, since publishers and ad networks need to specifically work with [and pay] Adblock Plus to have their ads deemed acceptable.” The process was pretty time-consuming, and Adblock Plus found that it was limited as to how many sites could sign up to display ads to potential ad-blockers.

What does Adblock Plus want out of this move?

For starters, it’s hoping that the new exchange will mean more usage of its Acceptable Ads. It’s also hoping that the model will be makes things easier for publishers by allowing them to show some ads vs. none. By creating its own marketplace, Adblock Plus still gets to be a kind of gatekeeper that charges a toll. Publishers can keep 80% of all ad revenue from ads in the marketplace. The remaining 20% will be divided among other stakeholders, including ad servers. Adblock Plus gets 6% of total revenue. Well, at least it’s all transparent.

RTBlog checked in with some ad-tech executives to hear what they had to say about the move:

Scott O’Neill, SVP North America, MPP Global: "Many of the leading publishers are already employing techniques to combat the revenue decline -- sometimes as high as 40% -- reportedly caused by ad blocking technologies. There are lessons to be learned about the intrusive nature of adverts and the effect they have on the end user. We have long advocated the evolution of the way publishers monetize their offering.

Although this is a step in that evolution process, one which has significant backing, this adds another layer of complexity and cost to publishers at a time that the market is already facing its share of challenges. MPP Global believes that publishing companies should harness other innovative business models to secure and generate additional revenue streams rather than relying so heavily on advertising.”

Ted Dhanik, Co-founder and CEO, engage:BDR: "It's no secret that Adblock Plus users are a coveted audience: They're digitally savvy, often millennial consumers. Also no secret: the injustice caused not only by this technology stealing ad space from publishers, but now planning to profit off that space. We have neutral third parties, like the Interactive Advertising Bureau, to introduce best practices on user experience.

Adblock Plus is masking this move as an attempt to nobly enforce creative standards for the good of the user, but really, this is a huge conflict of interest based on their new position."

Rob Lennon, product marketing manager, Thunder:  "The move by Adblock Plus is another blow against rich media and a big step forward for the L.E.A.N. ads movement. Just as the music industry was disrupted by piracy but now consumer-friendly music streaming has been widely adopted, we're beginning to see a redefining of digital advertising.

This transformation isn't going to stop until consumers are happy and publishers are still able to make money. People don't mind ads when they load non-intrusively and the ad content is relevant to their interests. The high-quality targeting from AdWords and AppNexus will allow advertisers to achieve message relevancy as long as they are investing properly in tailoring creatives to audiences. As tailored and personalized creative becomes more widespread, we will see a decrease in the public outrage that is driving people to block ads in the first place."

 

2 comments about "Yes, Adblock Plus Is Now In The Ad Sales Biz".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from DragonSearch, September 14, 2016 at 10:56 a.m.

    And mere hpurs after this news was announced by Adblock Plus, Google told them what they could do with it; AppNexus followed suit. Let's see how much of a sell side there is without a buy side.

  2. Tobi Elkin from MediaPost, September 14, 2016 at 10:58 a.m.

    Yes, Henry, you're right... there's a link to that story in the newsletter today. What a mess.

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