Summits Yellow

AdBlock Plus Unveils Ad Platform - The Industry Reacts

Tim Maytom

Earlier this week, AdBlock Plus announced it was launching its own ad platform, expanding on its Acceptable Ads program to serve approved ads to users who were blocking what they considered "disruptive" content.

There has already been fallout from the announcement, with Google cutting ties with ComboTag, AdBlock Plus' platform partner and Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of ads and commerce at Google describing the news as an "uncomfortable development".

The AdBlock Plus announcement claimed that Google and AppNexus would be involved with the ad exchange, but AppNexus was quick to distance itself from the news, also suspending its business with ComboTag.

In the wake of all this drama, we reached out to some industry experts for their reaction to this week's developments, and asked whether an ad blocker can also be in the ad selling game.

guy phillipson squareGuy Phillipson, CEO, IAB UK
"Adblock Plus, who spent years as the consumer champion squashing adverts – now sell ads!

"We see the cynical move from Adblock Plus as a new string in their racket. Now they're saying to publishers 'We took away some of your customers who didn't want ads, and now we are selling them back to you on commission'.

"The fact is, in the UK ad blocking has stalled. It's been stuck at 21 per cent throughout 2016 because the premium publishers who own great content, and provide a good ad experience, hold all the cards.

"More and more of them are offering ad blocking consumers a clear choice: turn off your ad blocking software or no access to our content. And their strategy is working, with 25 to 40 per cent turning off their blockers. So with their original business model running out of steam, Adblock Plus have gone full circle to get into the ad sales business."

James Hilton MandCSaatchiJames Hilton, CEO, M&C Saatchi Mobile
"First it’s important to understand the adoption of ad blocking is in response to consumer frustration over a rise in disruptive ad experiences. Unfortunately, there have been an increasing number of rogue ad players looking to monetize by duping consumers into unintended engagement.


"While the ad blocking trend should help mitigate rogue ads, we see this as a strategic opportunity to reinvent how advertising can add value to the consumer’s digital experience for our clients.

"Regardless of whether there’s a conflict of interest with AdBlock Plus selling ads, it is forcing the conversation and ultimately offering advertisers an alternative ad experience. In order words, this is an example of progress that will inspire more customer-centric ad innovations."

simon baptist tuneSimon Baptist, director of business development for EMEA, Tune
"Is anyone surprised that this was the next step for Eyeo?  As I have been saying for some time now when asked about ad blockers: take a close look at the companies and people who are building these tools and I am confident it will give you cause of concern.

"This step is the latest example and I am glad to hear that Google and AppNexus have said they will have no involvement.

"Another thing I have been saying is that ad blockers are the symptom and not the cure for what ails digital advertising.  I continue to hope that as an industry we take this opportunity to find that cure. Otherwise, you can be sure this won't be the last effort from companies like Eyeo to impose their own solution."

Mark ChallinorMark Challinor, president, International News Media Association
"Speaking on behalf of news publishers, I am not sure they will be too happy about someone else determining what is an 'acceptable ad'. AdBlock Plus are planning a committee from various industries to decide what is acceptable or not in terms of guidelines, but it currently sounds a little like cart before the horse.

"As far as I can see, acceptable ads will also have less revenue potential, which again will not go down too well. AdBlock Plus seem to be playing the role of God here, and charging you for their 'wisdom'. I question if they have that to offer?"