Business Impact

Adblock Plus Wants to Make Money by Serving You More Ads

A service meant to shield users from annoying ads is making money the same way that most of the Internet does.

Sep 13, 2016

It would be easy to come down on one side or the other of the great Internet debate on ad blocking. If you make money from serving ads to readers or potential buyers online, then logic would seem to dictate that you’d be upset by a piece of software that blocks those ads. If you’re a reader, your incentive to use free software like Adblock Plus to quash ads is obvious.

But as a service launched today makes clear, it’s just not that simple.

Eyeo, the firm behind Adblock Plus, aims to create a marketplace for ads that it will let through, as long as publishers abide by a set of guidelines designed to make the ads less annoying—and pay a fee. But this isn’t an attempt to muscle in on online advertising business models, the marketplace’s creators insist. It’s a way to make the Internet a less annoying place for users while still allowing websites that depend on ad revenue to pay the bills.

When Adblock Plus was created, in 2006, it quickly became famous (or infamous) for putting the kibosh on clunky, invasive ads—and cutting off a potential source of income for digital publishers. Its mastermind, Wladimir Palant, soon realized there was a better way and introduced the Acceptable Ads program, which allowed white-listed ads through as long as publishers agreed to a set of guidelines designed to prevent the ads from being annoying to readers.

The new marketplace, called the Acceptable Ads Platform, aims to vet ads and let publishers choose what works for their site and their audience. Under the scheme, publishers would keep 80 percent of revenue generated by serving ads on their sites, while the remaining 20 percent would be split among Eyeo, which would get 6 percent, and other companies partnering on the platform.

“What I really would like to see is that the Web as a whole takes a step back and develops a meaningful compromise between what the websites need and what publishers need,” Palant told us back in November. It’s a way to end what he calls the “outright war” between online advertisers and users. If this is indeed the way to end it, he’ll be the one who comes out a winner.

(Read more: The Verge, Wall Street Journal, “The Ad Blocking Kingpin Reshaping the Web as He Prefers It,” “Facebook Can’t Win Against Ad Blockers, and Here’s the Proof”)