Friday, July 05, 2013

How Google and other big advertisers pay Adblock Plus to whitelist their ads

If you are among the millions who use Adblock Plus on Firefox or Chrome, this tweet, sent Friday morning, should grab your attention. Sent by Amit Agarwal, it says:
Google paid AdBlock Plus to get its ads whitelisted
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5995140
To be clear, a bit of poking around on the Adblock Plus website indicates that Google probably isn't the only one to do so. Adblock Plus' own FAQ addresses the "feature":
Do companies pay you for being added to the (Acceptable / Non-intrusive Ads) list?

Whitelisting is free for all small websites and blogs. However, managing this list requires significant effort on our side and this task cannot be completely taken over by volunteers as it happens with common filter lists. That's why we are being paid by some larger properties that serve nonintrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative.
Whitelisting is free for all small websites and blogs? And others can pay to get into the list? This isn't going over well with many at the Adblock Plus website. A forum dedicated to proposals for the Non-instrusive Ads list has quite a few complaints on it.

One, by user screwadp, says:
Really? You are now going to whitelist banners? This is very dissapointing to me. You are definitely selling out. What happened to the times when you did what you should do: BLOCK ADS? I am out.
Another, by user BunnyF0cker666, says:
Of course you start showing banners. *fetches pitchfork and torch*
To be clear, there is a way to disable so-called "non-intrusive ads" (as shown above). However, the setting to allow them is enabled by default.

If you are wondering why some ads are showing up, perhaps you now know.

To be clear, it's not as though we don't want to support websites, particularly small ones, with ad revenue. We're also not against Adblock Plus making a dollar, since it doesn't charge for the software, per se. Still, this feature is likely to be seen as a conflict of interest by many.

It is also unfair to smaller advertisers and sites. Google, after all, has a sizable wallet and can afford to pay to play. Not all do.

Many will note the obvious: There are alternative ad-blocking programs, particularly for Chrome.

It's interesting that Google would pay to be added to the non-intrusive ads list, because in March Google banned the Adblock Plus mobile app from its Play Store. Of course, the company simple released a version of the app that users can sideload, and that app now also checks automatically for updates, too.

But the main thing is that Google, while saying no to an app in a market it controls, has to go along with an app that is installed in the Wild Wild West of desktop installs -- and pays so its ads are not blocked.  Ironic, no?



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