This news would come as a surprise to the more than 100 million users of Adblock Plus, the biggest ad blocking software in the world. For those who are wondering, Adblock Plus help users who install the software on their browsers as add-ons to stop seeing annoying ads.
Now the surprise is, Adblock Plus is now going to start making money from these ads. The scheme is easy to understand: if online ad companies want their ads to appear on websites, they would need to pay Adblock Plus a chunk of that ad money so that users can see the ads.
However, this is not surprising. Fact is, since Adblock Plus started what it called ‘acceptable ads’, it had always allowed some ads to pass through its filters. These are ads that are not too intrusive or annoying to people online.
This new feature is therefore an extension of the ‘acceptable ads‘ format. Only this time, more companies would be involved and more money would exchange hands as more and more ads are allowed to pass through Adblock Plus’ filters.
The news of this development was announced in a press release on Adblock Plus’ website. Part of the long post justifying the move read:
But this blog post is about a massive improvement we’ve made on the whitelisting process. Starting today we’re launching the beta version of a fully functional ad-tech platform that will make whitelisting faster and easier. To do it, we teamed up with publisher platform-provider ComboTag to build what will be known as the Acceptable Ads Platform, an interactive platform that lets publishers and bloggers choose from a marketplace of pre-whitelisted ads that they can drag and drop onto their sites.”
Reading through that blog, I felt something was not right about how Adblock Plus does business. Firstly, they tell people to install their software on browsers if they don’t want to see ads. People do it and it works. Then behind the scenes, they make deals with the owners of the ads to give them money to allow the ads to show on websites even if the user has already installed Adblock Plus.
The companies, some of them as big as Google agree to this and pay Adblock Plus to allow their ads pass through their filters. So don’t be surprised if you have been seeing Google ads as you browse the net even though you installed Adblock Plus.
And like all companies trying to take advantage of common folks, Adblock Plus is pitching this move as something that is good for everybody, including those who installed the software because they don’t want to see any ads while browsing.
Recall that it was just last month that Adblock Plus decided to take on Facebook because Facebook redesigned their web page so that ad blocking softwares would not be able to block Facebook ads.
The masses cheered Adblock Plus for standing on the side of the little guy on the street when they updated their software to bypass Facebook’s new coding. Seriously vilified, Facebook tried to explain to a skeptical public why Adblock Plus is not doing favors to anybody because they (Adblock Plus) are also making money from online ads.
Nobody believed Facebook. Everybody thought they were just trying to cover up their greed by painting the good guys black.
Now the chickens have come home to roost. Adblock Plus is taking a lot of flak and condemnation from all angles.
Some people would even call Adblock’s business model outright cyber blackmail. They could have a point there. Because forcing someone to give you money or have their business ruined is nothing short of blackmail.
Like we have said several times here, ads are the lifeblood of the internet and it is bad to block them or the free content we get would be hauled behind a paywall or in extreme cases, pulled down for lack of funds to keep on publishing content.
image credit: theguardian.com; nerdsmagazine.com; techinformerz.com; businessinsider.com