Adblock Plus Announces Its Own Ad Platform

This story from 2016 looks at Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, announcing its own ad platform.

Published: September 15, 2016 8:31 PM /


The Eyeo logo against a white background

Eyeo, the ad blocking company behind Adblock Plus (ABP), has announced that it is launching its own advertisement platform. This is an extension of ABP's acceptable ads program, which has been running for years. Eyeo has decided to whitelist certain ads if they don't track the user, don't contain malware, and are not intrusive.

Users still have the option of blocking all ads, but some choose to allow the whitelisted ads so they can support publishers. The main change this platform offers is an easy way for publishers to choose whitelisted ads to run on their site.

Eyeo has been accused of extortion and even being "mafia-like" with its whitelisting, because it charges large companies to have their ads whitelisted, although smaller ones will be whitelisted free of charge as long as they meet the acceptable ads criteria.

An image showing a mockup of Eyeo's Adblock Plus running on a browser

Only around 10% of the companies taking part in the program pay to have their ads whitelisted. On this new platform, Eyeo will be taking a cut of all the advertising revenue, and Eyeo considers this platform a benefit for publishers.

In a press release, the company states the following:

There are two ecosystems of online consumers out there right now: the one composed of people who block intrusive ads and the other where people do not. The Acceptable Ads Platform lets publishers reach the former group without changing anything about how they’re reaching the latter. We’ve been waiting years for the ad tech industry to do something consumer-friendly like this, so finally we got tired of waiting and decided to just do it ourselves.

Eyeo's partner in this is the advertising startup ComboTag. The announcement also suggested that Google and AppNexus would be supplying ads to the platform. However, this was seemingly based on ComboTag's existing business relationship with the two companies, not because either company actually agreed to participate.

In fact, both companies claim they were completely unaware of a platform involving Eyeo, and they want nothing to do with it. AppNexus sent the following message to Business Insider when contacted about this matter:

We informed ComboTag this afternoon that they had no authorization to announce such a partnership, and that we are definitively refusing to make Acceptable Ads Platform available on AppNexus.

AppNexus does not work with companies like Eyeo; we regard their business practices as fundamentally harmful to the ecosystem. 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.

ComboTag issued today's announcement without our knowledge or authorization. The only AppNexus contact with whom they previewed details of the initiative was a junior support manager who is not authorized to sign off on it. When the story posted today, we promptly informed ComboTag that we would not allow Eyeo on our platform, even through the back door.

A shot showing the Acceptable Ads initiative run by Eyeo and Adblock Plus

Google issued its own statement on the matter, stating:

We review the validity and quality of inventory made available on our platform, but have no knowledge of, or involvement in, ComboTag or Eyeo’s publisher monetization arrangements.

Both companies are reported to have terminated existing business arrangements with ComboTag.

With the two advertising networks definitively backing away from the platform, it's not clear where it will get its ads from. However, Eyeo and ComboTag continue to insist Google and AppNexus will be involved. ComboTag CEO Guy Tytunovich sent this statement to Business Insider:

The Acceptable Ads Platform simply works with the demand infrastructures of Google AdX and AppNexus. Nothing's changed here. ComboTag has been working with AppNexus and Google AdX for a long time and it's always been a fruitful relationship.

We're looking forward to helping publishers monetize their inventories using our robust platform tools, while at the same time protecting ABP users from intrusive ads.

AdBlock, a rival adblocker to ABP, has stated on Facebook that this advertising platform is not something it would ever do. AdBlock also resents being confused with ABP by some articles.

AdBlock is a participant in the Acceptable Ads program and has been since October. At around the same time, the platform was purchased by a mystery buyer. Even if AdBlock is in favor of acceptable ads, it seems that AdBlock is not on board with ABP's plan to set up its own advertising platform.

Is an advertising platform dedicated to non-intrusive ads a good idea? Will Eyeo and ComboTag even be able to make it succeed without the backing of major ad networks? Leave your comments below.

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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.