Adblock Plus, the popular online ad blocking software, will now be starting an ad platform for publishers which will allow them to choose from a marketplace of pre-whitelisted advertisements that they can drag and drop onto their sites. Adblock Plus has teamed up with publisher platform ComboTag to build an Acceptable Ads Platform (AAP).
Advertisements on this platform will have to adhere to certain sizes and spots. Publishers will have a drag-and-drop editor to place readymade ads into their sites in realtime. Note that this is only for users who have agreed to allow non-intrusive ads to support websites. Adblock Plus will still block all non-compliant ads, and users can still turn off the Acceptable Ads feature completely if they choose.
Publishers will need to integrate a single tag into their page, and they can start using the new ad-tech platform. The beta is open for publishers and advertisers who would like to test it, and it will fully launch in the fall, the company added in its statement.
It is worth noting that Adblock Plus had started whitelisting acceptable ads some months ago and the company claimed that it used to take weeks to vet an ad which now takes seconds. Eeyo had also constituted an independent committee to over see its acceptable ads initiative last year.
Feed back mechanism
AAP has a feedback mechanism for users where they can rate an ad whether it was good or bad. The mechanism is embedded into each of the ads and will help in real-time bidding of ads during live auctions, Adblock mentioned in its blog.
“Our feedback mechanism will allow users to provide us with a per-ad feedback, in real time. Furthermore, it will allow us to examine, with the help of our user forum, each and every creative that is deemed problematic by one of our users. If users complain about it for whatever reason – it was ugly, it was intrusive, it was creepy – it gets punished on the auction,” the blog added.
What it means for Indian publishers
Recently many Indian publishers started prompting users who use ad blockers to turn it off to view content on their websites. This included publications from Times of India Group, HT Media, NDTV Group among others. Publishers need to understand that the majority of users are not averse to advertising. They simply do not want intrusive ads, which track them and eat up bandwidth. Case in point:
no joke, accidentally closed TOI website because i thought it was a pop-up. pic.twitter.com/8n0R2c0bRI
— Imaan Sheikh (@sheikhimaan) August 11, 2016
Publishers, on their part, are within their rights to block users who stop ads from their viewing content. Digital advertising is commoditised to a level where it attaches little value to the quality of the content or the publishers brand. In order to sustain, publishers end up trying to sell as much advertising as possible and increase the number of impressions served or clicks on links.
Perhaps, it is time to call a truce with users using ad blocking software and perhaps have more meaningful ads which are less intrusive.
Adblock’s move can be properly summed up by this meme:
That said, publishers will look at the move from Adblock Plus as further cementing its role as a gatekeeper for advertising. Advertising and publishing companies have been complaining that Adblock Plus has been effectively running a protection racket, while the company maintains that it is simply shielding users from invasive ads. Whether ad firms and publishers were responsible for creating a situation for Adblock Plus to thrive can be debated endlessly. One thing is certain though, ads need to stop being intrusive, and as such Adblock Plus’ move seems logical.
Ad-supported journalism is unsustainable in the long term, as it will simply put pressure on media companies to keep churning out stories to support the paltry returns on online ads. The result of that pushing so many stories will have media companies sacrifice quality of reporting. Raju Nairsetti, vice president at News Corp, sums it up nicely:
Because supply in journalism is going to be infinite. New brands, new people and new journalism. If I’m an advertiser, I have increasingly more choices to advertise. So the CPMs (cost per thousand impression) will continue to fall. So I’m not seeing anything which makes me go “here is someone who’s trying to innovate on the business model”.