Analysis, Software Programs

Adblock Plus is Extortion and Needs to be Stopped

Adblock Plus, an extension for Chrome and Firefox that, as its name implies, blocks ads, is popular amongst users. After all, nobody likes ads with many users absolutely loathing intrusive — but frequently less popular — pop-up or pop-under ads. Thus there’s a market for something that strips a user’s browsing experience.

The parent company of Adblock Plus, Eyeo, makes its money by offering certain ad providers the opportunity to be put on a whitelist. For a fee, these companies have their ads exempted from Adblock Plus’ blocking efforts (Eyeo says it offers some smaller companies the ability to go on the whitelist for free).

Advertising is at the core of the business model of publishing. While many speak of the disruptive power of the internet to the publishing market, the reality is at a macro level the business model is still the same. Create content, sell ads against it (or integrate advertorials), offer premium content with a subscription. Thus, a service that offers to strip the revenue engine from the publishing industry — while still providing the user with the product — is effectively holding the publishing industry with a “ransom note” as Mike Zaneis, a vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau described it in an earlier interview with CNET.

“It’s a huge economic problem for the industry, one the industry is just coming to grips with and to see as the fundamental threat that it is,” he is quoted as saying.

According to a Financial Times report, ad giants Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) are amongst the companies that pay Adblock’s Eyeo a hefty sum to ensure that their ads are seen by users. According to reports Eyeo requires these companies give it a 30% cut of ad revenues from users of its product.

Now compare what Adblock does to an extortion racket run by organized crime. A gang’s extortion racket will demand that shop owners in the gang’s neighbourhood pay the gang a monthly fee under the threat of violence or destruction of property. Unless the shop owner pays up, they will not be allowed to peacefully do business in the area.

Adblock is not much different. Advertising is the economic engine of publishing, and without it publishers simply could not offer content without a subscription. Right now Eyeo is facing a number of lawsuits in the European Union from German and French publishing companies. Let’s hope these succeed. The future of the advertising-based publishing model depends on it.

  • Rich Mullikin

    In general, I’m just a little surprised that Adblock’s Acceptable Ads initiative is
    being treated as something new. To be as transparent as possible, they’ve been
    talking about it since it began in 2011. In addition, it’s been widely reported; they wrote a manifesto about it and got others to join; they published blog posts explaining it in great detail; they’ve debated it; spoken about it on stages in Europe and America; and they put every applicant to the program completely out in the open on our forum.

    It’s painful to read the word “mafia” to refer to an add-on downloaded by
    300 million people that was the first product to finally put the brakes on the
    abuses of the Internet advertising market.

    The Acceptable Ads initiative began because Adblock Plus was aware of the danger that increased adblocker use had for small and medium websites that relied on advertising to monetize their free content. So they decided to find a middle ground between advertisers, publishers and users to those sites that wanted to go for better ads.

    That is why they began to unlock ads provided they were acceptable. Contrary to
    what this article says, Adblock Plus never unlocks banners, pop ups or video ads
    in exchange for money. The first and foremost condition, no matter who wishes
    to be included in the white list, is that they abide by the criteria of Adblock Plus’
    whitelist.

    Ninety percent of those on the whitelist are there completely, 100% free, and we’ve been very open about that. Adblock Plus does not require users to see advertising if they want to just block it all: users can disable Acceptable Ads in one simple click in the Options.

    So in the absolutist world of ads-vs-adblockers, we’re proud to offer a compromise
    that can encourage better ads and keep the free Internet alive.

    • Jeamsid Abdul

      I need A’n adblock that is able to sniff exactly the data each site is pulling threw so I’ll Always be able to block the ads on my own white list ! thanks comodo.

      • Jeamsid Abdul

        with comodo community anti adware as a backup flagging them 🙂

  • Steve

    Hyperbole article.

    Just uncheck the “allow some non-intrusive advertisements” in Adblock filter options and you will not see any of these paid for ads.

    See a one sentence article instead of this hyperbole one that doesn’t help anyone.

    • Lex

      adblock is scummy bullshit, you should not use websites that have ads if you have adblocker,

  • Jeamsid Abdul

    just create one make it anonymus and release it for 30 $ worth of bitcoins

  • Jeamsid Abdul

    no company, no bullshit.