The hugely popular ad blocking software launches their ad exchange, prompting Google and others to pull away…far away.
For a large percentage of U.S.-based desktop users, AdBlock Plus is the go-to solution to keep intrusive advertising out of the picture. (I count myself among those folks, without apology.)
So it came as quite a surprise last week when Eyeo GmbH, the parent company of the service, announced they are launching an ad exchange.
“Publishers can sign up for the marketplace, called the ‘Acceptable Ads Platform,’ and use it to sell and place ad space on their webpages,” writes Jack Marshall in the Wall Street Journal.
In other words, you install Adblock Plus, and you get ads anyway…but only the ads that meet Eyeo’s acceptable use criteria. That should make me feel better, but it doesn’t. (There is a workaround; under Adblock Plus Options, you can uncheck the box to allow some non-intrusive advertising. The default position is to allow them.)
To me is smacks of the Facebook model, letting companies build an audience on the network, then being forced to pay to visit them. Others criticize AdBlock for setting up a virtual toll booth on the ad highway and siphoning off ill-gotten profits.
Eyeo disputes the allegations, saying they are “just looking out for the best interests of web users who are tired of being overwhelmed by internet advertising that slows down their web surfing and pitches products they don’t want,” according to Marshall.
Interestingly, the article notes that Google and AppNexus will both helping with ad sales in the new platform “by offering it up to potential buyers through their own online ad exchanges,” Marshall notes.
Not so fast, says Google.
“We were just as surprised by the announcement as you were,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of ads and commerce at Google, according to Lauren Johnson in AdWeek. “We certainly have no relationship with Eyeo when it comes to this effort.”
He adds, “This is not a business that we want to be a part of.”
AppNexus had a similar reaction, saying “Unfortunately, the information reported in the original article around AppNexus’ involvement in any such exchange is, in fact, incorrect,” notes George Siefo in Advertising Age.
“Essentially, Eyeo, via its Adblock product, erects toll booths on a public road and siphons off advertising dollars that should be going directly to publishers. We hold that practice in low regard,” the company added.
Ouch, Eyeo GmbH, that’s gotta sting.
Maybe the plan is for Adblock to come full circle after this is all setup, and allow subscribers to pay to block the ads that AdBlock unblocked for them. Meanwhile, the ad blocking tsunami hasn’t even hit our shores yet. Advertisers are desperate to get in front on tech-savvy consumers, and at least 70 brands have whitelisted their ads so far.
Folks, this is getting weird. With the digital advertising meltdown, ad blockers looked like a friend to the common user, saying “don’t blame us” for being popular. Now, they are looking to profit from their relationship with their customers in this round-about way. We have no problem with them looking for a way to monetize their business fairly and above board; this isn’t it.