Nothing like going into the lion’s den without a whip.
Adblock Plus, the leading ad blocker, will convene a “potentially world-changing meetup” the week after next in New York City, according to spokesman Ben Williams. Blogging on the Adblock Plus site, Williams says the confab will be for “people involved with technology, online rights and ads, who might be interested in being on our Acceptable Ads Committee. …NY Internet Marketers has been asked to help select candidates for an Independent Board that will completely manage how ad blockers define ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ads.”
In an email interview, Williams noted that he would conduct the meeting himself, which will be at HYPR, 4 World Trade Center. Adblock’s Mark Addison will possibly also attend.
“I imagine the event will be fairly informal — which could bode for friendliness ... but in such a setting it can always get a bit prickly. We'll see ... I'm the one doing a short presentation, but it will be largely Q&A and one-on-ones; I'll try and keep everything classy :),” Williams writes.
Considering the bile directed towards Adblock Plus from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, there might well be some heat, or an attempt at a boycott. IAB has called ad blocking “robbery,” and an “existential threat to the industry,” on a par with generals talking about ISIS. We shall see who attends.
The invitation reads, “Calling all publishers, brands and online marketers: this is an exclusive opportunity to meet the team behind the largest ad blocker in the world: Adblock Plus. We will learn how Adblock Plus got started, what their motivations are for disrupting online advertising, and how they open-source their whitelisting process. Most people don’t realize, but ad blocking is actually run as a global community project with thousands of volunteers who maintain a central filter list. Almost all ad blockers use these same open-sourced lists.”
We wrote about the Acceptable Ads Committee many months ago, amid much pushback from the IAB, which hates Adblock Plus. Back then, there had been some exploratory meetings with the ad tech community but the IAB was asserting that many were sitting on their hands. We suspect, however, that some will show up, if only because they’re curious.
We take a somewhat contrary view on ad blocking. Despite the obvious and heavy-duty toll it takes on the ad tech community, it is very unlikely to go away anytime soon. Adoption of this simple-to-use technology just keeps growing and, with at least two browsers now pre-loaded with ad blocking software and even Google debating whether to include it with Chrome (it passed), we see ad blocking as unstoppable.
We would love to use this venue for a debate on this meeting and on the potential for collaboration with groups like Adblock Plus. Certainly, a lot of advertisers work with it to get on its whitelist, regardless of what they might privately feel about it. So, let’s discuss. Should you go to the meeting or not? You will find Williams a most friendly fellow, as I have, whether you see him as blocking your business or not.
In June, eMarketer released a report on U.S. ad blocking, concluding that approximately a quarter of all Internet users, about 70 million, mostly young people, will be blocking ads this year. To get some perspective on how fast this is growing, consider that just 7 million smartphone owners were blocking in 2014. The figure is now closer to 30 million.
So, let’s hear what you think. We will be glad to introduce you to Williams, if you wish. Or look at his posts on the Adblock Plus blog.