Future Tense

Adblock Plus Now Sells “Acceptable” Ads

Adblock Plus, the popular extension used to stop advertisements from popping up in users’ internet browsers, announced Tuesday a new system for allowing advertisers, website operators, and publishers to reach Adblock Plus users with “acceptable” advertisements.

Adblock Plus calls the change an expansion of its previous model, which that allowed certain “whitelisted” ads to appear on computer screens. In the past, whitelisted ads were created by websites and advertisers in coordination with Adblock Plus. Then the sites paid the company to allow the ads to show in ad-block users’ browsers. According to the company, the whitelisting process took weeks, which limited how many ads could be approved. The new system, called the Acceptable Ads Platform, lets “publishers and bloggers choose from a marketplace of pre-whitelisted ads that they can drag and drop onto their sites.” And now, it says, whitelisting an ad takes only seconds.

This is generally good news for websites and publishers who want to be able to make money by hosting ads on their sites. But it’s head-scratcher for people who use Adblock Plus to, you know, block ads.

The irony of the announcement wasn’t lost on ad-block users, some of whom took to Twitter to weigh in on the change, and even encourage Adblock Plus users to switch to other ad-blocking software like uBlock Origin.

But even for website operators and publishers, the change isn’t necessarily beneficial. As the Verge writes: “Acceptable ads are likely to be less valuable than the ads a publisher could otherwise display, limiting what a website can earn. And in setting up its own marketplace, Adblock Plus continues to position itself as a gatekeeper charging a toll to get through a gate of its own making.”

In a press release, Adblock Plus characterized the situation differently. Till Faida, a co-founder of Adblock Plus said:

There are two ecosystems of online consumers out there right now: the one composed of people who block intrusive ads and the other where people do not. The Acceptable Ads Platform lets publishers reach the former group without changing anything about how they’re reaching the latter.

Adblock Plus said it still offers users the option of turning off Acceptable Ads completely, but it notes that “more than 90 percent” of Adblock Plus users allow the “respectful and useful ads to display on their favorite websites.”

The company called the acceptable ads part of a “compromise between users and advertisers,” and said the new ad marketplace won’t change “much of anything for users.” Maybe that’s true. But if Adblock Plus’ roster of Acceptable Ads starts to include auto-playing videos with sound on, users might revolt.