Verify The Responsible -- Ban The Blockers

AdBlock Plus going public on how it operates has tickled me this morning. Although it's such a serious topic, I actually laughed out loud when I realised that the best way to get whitelisted is to pay. OK -- so smaller publishers can get through without paying, but the huge publishers are being asked to give AdBlock Plus a 30% cut of what they gain through being whitelisted. Yes, that's right. The technology used on desktop and mobile devices to protect us from all that nasty advertising can be circumvented by big publishers giving the tool nearly a third of their revenue.

I'm no lawyer, but is anyone else sensing a protection racket going on here? The software that claims to keep ads away from its users offers a key to open up the door to those who will pay. Talk about having your cake while you eat it too!

There are several issues here, and the main one is the very obvious aspect of only "protecting" the public from big publishers that don't pay for a key. The other is AdBlock Plus saying that only publishers who do not run intrusive ads are allowed through. However -- and this is the really crucial part -- they're not very clear on what intrusive is, other than to say the company is putting together a committee to decide what intrusive looks like.

It isn't just me, is it -- this stinks, doesn't it? Regular readers will know I am no fan of ad blocking, but the disdain I have for a company that expects large publishers to buy a key is too large to be measured. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but I'd say the guys who are pulling in millions of impressions a month are typically those who are too smart to use intrusive ads, or they are so associated with intrusive advertising and clickbait that anyone with half a brain avoids them.

Put simply, it's not always the huge publishers that are being intrusive with advertising, because they are smart enough to see the negative impact it has on their brand. Far more likely, I'd suggest, is that the majority of problems come from smaller publishers desperate to make ends meet that will push the boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn't.

Which makes me ask a couple of very simple questions.

To AdBlock Plus: Who do you think you're kidding with your protection racket -- and why do you think you're owed nearly a third of the income you're blocking? Honestly, guys, what gives?

To people who block ads: How do you think people who create content offered to you for free get paid? If you're too stupid to realise that blocking ads will put content creators out of business, then you really do deserve to take a long walk off a short cliff.

First point to the publishing industry: How did you let this happen? How can it be that an ad blocking can start building a definition of intrusive ads and work that back to charging you 30% of revenue?

Second point to the publishing industry: Why on earth is there not a certification process through which responsible publishers can be verified as only offering acceptable ads? This could lead to a badge that assures viewers it's a safe site or app to access without all those flashing distractions getting in the way.

Third point to the publishing industry: Why on earth are only a handful of publishers brave enough to say to digital content thieves that they cannot access content while their ad blocker is active? To be embroiled in a protection racket is one thing, and to give in without defending your position is quite another.

Certification followed by barring the blockers is the only way out of this mess. If you want to know the motives of those who caused it just consider the pain free route they are offering. It was always about the money more than the "protecting" consumers. Fight fire with fire. Verify the responsible, ban the blockers.

1 comment about "Verify The Responsible -- Ban The Blockers".
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  1. Todd Garland from BuySellAds, March 3, 2016 at 10:38 a.m.

    To your "First point to the publishing industry", it's happened because ad tech has never been able to keep their hands out of the proverbial cookie jar (yes, pun intended).

    AdBlockPlus isn't the issue here - and every time we talk about whether or not we agree with their business model we're sidestepping the core issue. ABP is not forcing users to install ad blockers. The issue is ad tech allowing really bad stuff to exist within the ecosystem that has led to the rise in ad blocking. There are many ad blockers out there who do not accept money from large ad tech companies to be "whitelisted".

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