AdBlock Plus: The Wolf hiding in Sheep’s Clothing

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Last week it was announced by AdBlock Plus, the company famous for it’s service/product for blocking ads, that they will now be adding ads. Fear not though, as the company promises to only sell “non-annoying” ads. The program, named the Acceptable Ads Platform (AAP), will allow publishers and brands to sign up for the service and then sell an “acceptable” ad via an automated bidding system. There is a feedback mechanism so you can rate your “acceptable ad” experience.

To the company’s surprise, the announcement didn’t receive too much approval from their customers. Many of the 100 million worldwide users of AdBlock Plus feel betrayed by the company, accusing them of abandoning its ideals, running a shakedown, and threatening to stop using the service.

Patrick Hopf, President of SourceKnowledge said, “AdBlock Plus is simultaneously selling an ad blocker to users and an advertising platform to advertisers and publishers. It’s essentially an ad platform disguised as an ad blocker.”

The announcement couldn’t have come at a better time with the Dmexco Conference commencing the day after the announcement. A two day event showcasing products and services with collaboration from those working in the field of global digital marketing and the media industry.

In need of a special “task-force” to tackle the issues and concerns of the Digital Age, and mostly in response to the reported threat by eMarketer that U.S. consumers will download ad blockers at a 34% higher rate than last year, the Coalition for Better Ads was founded.

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Members of this Coalition include: Google, Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, the 4As, the Association of National Advertisers, the World Federation of Advertisers, the Washington Post, GroupM, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) who aim to monitor the quality of online advertising.

So why is this so important? Well groups such as Facebook and the IAB have been at AdBlocks throats about disrupting and extorting the natural cycle of the open and free internet. Their main argument is that consumers get to access these sites for free because of online advertising. Depriving the internet of online advertising would basically deprive the consumers of internet.

”No matter how AdBlock Plus tries to justify their form of extortion…it is a practice that will continue to erode the value exchange that powers the free and open Internet. Online advertising is what enables consumers across the globe to access their favorite websites, songs, and videos, and AdBlock Plus continues to ignore the damage its technology is doing to that free-flowing ability.” – Dave Grimaldi, evp of public policy at the IAB.

However, this tech game of cat-and-mouse has long existed since spammers have tried to circumvent spam filters and so online publishers are paying attention to the main issue at hand: online advertisements. The Coalition for Better Ads will be looking beyond countering ad-blocking software and instead will (hopefully) focus on the underlying issue of ads and how to not get them blocked in the first place.

But most importantly, this is a PR crisis for AdBlock Plus. The name blatantly states the brands position, but if it’s going in a different approach it might be time for a name changer. Ads&Block Plus perhaps? If you can think of a better alternative, post it in the comments section below.

Sources:

http://dmexco.com/about_dmexco/

http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/google-and-worlds-biggest-brands-are-forming-coalition-improve-digital-ads-173533

http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/adblock-plus-launching-marketplace-acceptable-ads-will-it-just-infuriate-everyone-173465

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/13/adblock-plus-launching-platform-to-sell-acceptable-ads

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