Eyeo launches AI-powered ad detector

Tim Maytom

The running battle between ad blocking software firms and the publishers and ad tech companies looking to fund their operations with advertising has taken another twist today, as Eyeo, the makers of Adblock Plus, launches an AI-powered ad detector designed to foil technologies that force ads onto consumers who have ad blockers installed.

The ad detector, called 'Sentinel', is built on neural net technology and is currently only a beta project. Eyeo is asking consumers to submit pictures of their Facebook feeds in order to train the software to identify natively-served ads that would typically avoid normal ad blocking software.

Eyeo, which created the world's most popular ad blocking browser extension, Adblock Plus, is hoping that in time, Sentinel will expand beyond Facebook ads, and could eventually replace other ad blocking programs, which rely on block lists to filter out unwanted content.

"This is the future of ad blocking," said Till Faida, CEO and co-founder of Eyeo. "Facebook and others are getting clever at disguising ads from ad blockers and using circumvention techniques to show you ads anyway. These tricks disregard your stated preference to block ads.

"We've always been able to develop workarounds to these circumvention techniques, but this cat-and-mouse game will likely continue for the foreseeable future. While only at its earliest stage right now, our Sentinel offers the framework of a long-term solution to the rise of anti-user 'circumventionists', and could have implications for viewability and ad detection within the ads industry as well."