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Let's Talk About Ad Blocking & Adblock Plus Selling Ad Space

2 mins read

There's more news on Ad Blocking with Adblock Plus selling ad space to site owners and content producers who originally had external ads on their sites blocked by Adblock Plus. Interesting. Or is it not? Read the discussion.




Ad Blockers; What's The Big Deal?

Earlier this year we, like many other agencies and plenty of respected industry thought leaders, were reporting the rise in internet users choosing to use ad blockers. 2016 was going to see the return of ad blockers being installed in order to counteract the use of modal pop-ups and interstitial pages.

The use of tools like Adblock Plus caused Facebook to get sneaky. They beat the tool and annoyed users by sneaking ads directly into peoples' newsfeeds. But the Adblock Plus community counter attacked, in just two days, and the established order of those using the software not seeing any ads was restored.

The amount of people using ad blocking software got so big that Facebook tried to get around the problem; they must have been starting to feel a financial pinch with the popularity of blockers driving down the price of advertising space.

At the time, it made us question, how popular were ad blockers? For example, nobody in the office used them.

Sam, a member of our PPC team uses them because, he says, "they improve the experience. They stop ads showing on YouTube and those annoying splash ads which appear on landing pages."

They are annoying, everyone here agrees, but not enough to warrant installing extra software - apart from one person in our office.





Adblock Plus Selling Ad Space For "Acceptable" Ads

In an interesting twist, Adblock Plus is now allowing sites to show what they have deemed to be "acceptable" ads.

So they will be continuing to block publishers from earning advertising revenue from third parties, by blocking these being shown to Adblock Plus users, but charging the same publishers to show "acceptable" ads.

In principal, this sounds like a fair approach to take to force website publishers to advertise responsibly and maximise the user experience.

Or, on the other hand, it sounds like Adblock Plus are having their cake and eating it too and, if you want to be extra cynical, employing extortion tactics to skim a cut of the ad revenue stream for themselves.

Either way, this isn't a bad gig for Adblock Plus if it pays off.

What could stop this from working is whether users of the tool will be able to disable these "acceptable" ads too. Otherwise, what's the point in using it, no matter how non-intrusive the ads are? If you don't want to see ads so much that you install an additional ad blocking software, why would you want to see any ads?

For what it's worth, Adblock Plus say that their users have been saying since 2011 that blocking 100% of ads is "a bad idea".

Back to the tool itself. Users can already disable the "Allow some non-intrusive advertising" option (shown below) but Adblock Plus say less than 10% of users choose to do this.



Adblock Plus user settings where you can disable being shown "some non-intrusive advertising". But these new acceptable ads aren't shown as an option to be disabled, so it stands to reason that users will not be able to avoid seeing more ads.

What this motion has got going for it is that Adblock Plus does not intend to use "acceptable" ads on sites of which the publisher has not signed up for in their scheme. These sites will continue to see ads blocked in the same way they are now.

If uses intrusive ads, they will be blocked, as normal, by Adblock Plus, but they won't be replaced by "acceptable" ads from sites which are signed up to the scheme.


But What Are Acceptable Ads?

Adblock Plus and ComboTag are initiating the acceptable ads scheme together. They define "acceptable" ads as ones which meet all of the following criteria:


  1. PLACEMENT: Ads should not disrupt the user's natural reading flow. Ads should instead be placed above, beside or below the primary content.
  2. DISTINCTION: Ads should clearly be marked with the word "advertisement" or a reasonable equivalent.
  3. SIZE: There are strict requirements for individual ad sizes, as well as the total space occupied by ads.


These ads will provide additional income on top of what the company already receives, from the likes of Google and Bing, to show ads from the already "white-listed" companies. This income is already rumoured to be "quite considerable" and when you look at the list of exempt sites on this page here, you can see why.


Back To The Original Question: Will This Impact You?

Are you an advertiser or web publisher who has seen your revenue hit by Adblock Plus being used by your visitors?

Or are you one of the ever growing number of internet users who installs ad blocking software? Why do you use it and how do you feel about "acceptable" ads? Share your comments below and join the discussion.


Ad Blocking Isn't An Issue If You Market Your Business The Inbound Way

If you would like to find out more about inbound marketing, get the latest State Of Inbound 2016 report to find out just how important it is that you prioritise non-intrusive advertising.