Eyeo GmbH, the company behind the popular online ad blocking software Adblock Plus, said on Tuesday it is launching an online advertising service to help marketers place “acceptable” ads before users with ad blocking technology turned on.
Eyeo is joining with ad tech firm ComboTag to create an automated ad marketplace, often referred to as an ad exchange, the companies said. Publishers can sign up for the marketplace, called the “Acceptable Ads Platform,” and use it to sell and place ad space on their webpages.
“Acceptable ads” are allowed to pass through Adblock Plus’s filters by default, provided they aren’t too intrusive or disruptive to users, it said.
The Acceptable Ads Platform will contain only ads that abide by its Acceptable Ads criteria, which dictate the size, placement and labeling of ads, Eyeo said.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google and ad tech specialist AppNexus also will have a hand in helping to sell ad space from the new platform, by offering it up to potential buyers through their own online ad exchanges.
All of the companies in the chain, including Eyeo, ComboTag, Google and AppNexus will take a cut of the revenue generated from the ads they help to sell and place on publishers’ sites through the program. The remainder will be passed to publishers, Eyeo said.
In a statement, Google said, “We review the validity and quality of inventory made available on our platform, but have no knowledge of ComboTag or Eyeo’s SSP arrangements.”
An AppNexus spokesperson confirmed that the company is helping to sell ad space from the Acceptable Ads Platform across its platform. Ad buying behemoth WPP has an ownership stake in both AppNexus and ComboTag.
Many publishers have railed against ad blocking as a technology that robs them of ad revenue. Some industry executives have had harsh words for Adblock Plus, whose business model they say effectively involves putting up a barrier to ads on publishers’ sites, and then asking for payment to take that barrier down.
Eyeo disputes that assessment and says it is 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. The company is billing its new ad exchange as a way to help publishers recoup ad revenues lost because of ad blocking, by “monetizing ad blocker users with alternative, less intrusive ads.”
“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,” said Eyeo Chief Executive Till Faida in a statement. “The Acceptable Ads Platform lets publishers reach the former group without changing anything about how they’re reaching the latter.”
Over a quarter of U.S. internet users now employ online ad-blocking software on their desktop computers, according to recent research commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Ad-blocking affects some websites more than others. Some gaming-related websites, for example, say their audiences now block large portions of their advertising.
The Acceptable Ads Platform has been in beta for around a month with a dozen publisher sites, according to ComboTag CEO Guy Tytunovich. During that time the prices of the ads it has sold via Google and AppNexus have “skyrocketed,” Mr. Tytunovich said, because advertisers are eager “to tap into users that are tech savvy and blocking advertising.”
In total, ads from some 700 companies, including advertisers, publishers and ad networks, meet Eyeo’s acceptable ads policy, a spokesperson for the company said. Eyeo already accepts payment from around 70 companies in exchange for letting their ads through its filter.
The Acceptable Ads Platform could allow Eyeo to scale up that “whitelisting” process, which could result in more revenue for the company.
ComboTag’s Mr. Tytunovich said his company has devised an automated tool to quickly and easily determine whether or not ads meet Eyeo’s Acceptable Ads criteria. Whitelisting ads used to take weeks, but now happens in seconds, the companies said.
Advertisers will not be able to target ads via the Acceptable Ads Platform using the granular behavioral data many have become accustomed to, however, to preserve user privacy and security. Rather, they would have a limited set of information with which to target their ads, including the domain on which an ad would appear; the device, browser and operating system on which it is being loaded; and the geographical location it is being loaded from.
Eyeo declined to disclose which companies are on its “whitelist”—those that escape ad-blocking. According to a person familiar with the company’s business relationships, paying customers of Eyeo include Google, Microsoft Corp. and Taboola.
Source: Wall Street Journal