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article imageAdBlock Plus to start selling 'acceptable' ads

By James Walker     Sep 14, 2016 in Technology
AdBlock Plus, the popular browser extension that allows users to block intrusive or distracting adverts, has announced its own ad marketplace. It will allow publishers to buy "acceptable" ads that will be displayed to users with the extension installed.
The company announced the initiative yesterday. It hasn't gone down well with all users, many of whom will now begin to see adverts on pages that the extension previously stripped bare. The extension's creators say it has been welcomed by 75 percent of the community though. AdBlock Plus defended its decision, saying it wants to use the approach to push the ad industry towards less intrusive formats. The marketplace will also provide a viable source of revenue for AdBlock Plus.
The new platform will allow publishers to insert "acceptable ads" into their content. These will be whitelisted by AdBlock Plus and shown to users with the extension installed. The company has developed a set of stringent criteria defining what makes an ad acceptable. It doesn't want to ruin its product by allowing low-quality ads back onto webpages.
Ads cannot disrupt a user's natural reading flow. Publishers aren't able to place promotional banners between paragraphs of the main content. This annoys users and can make it harder to navigate complex pages. Ads must be clearly distinguished and placed at the top, bottom or sides of the webpage.
All ads should be clearly marked with the word "Advertisement" or equivalent. They cannot be designed to trick users into thinking they are primary content. Ads must also meet a series of size restrictions depending on their placement and usage. The main body of the page must always get the most prominent emphasis. Full-page banners and pop-ups are totally prohibited.
A further set of guidelines explicitly declares what makes an ad unacceptable. Use of animation, auto-playing video or sound, excessive hover animations, automated expansions or browser plug-ins will lead to any ad being blacklisted. These cannot be classed as an acceptable ad and will be hidden by the browser extension.
AdBlock Plus will have acceptable ads enabled by default in a new version of its software. Users are free to disable them if desired, through a new "Allow some nonintrusive ads" option in AdBlock Plus' settings menus. AdBlock Plus will remain free for all to use.
"We believe that this initiative is a sustainable middle ground between the user's choice to use ad blockers and the continued need to support free online content with advertisements," said AdBlock Plus. "In general, an Acceptable Ad is a non-animated ad, clearly labeled as such, that does not interrupt reading flow. It is important to note that these criteria try to reflect the ongoing discussions between our users, publishers, advertisers and us. They will evolve as the web changes and as we receive more feedback."
AdBlock Plus creator Eyeo has teamed up with ad tech firm ComboTag to create a marketplace for acceptable ads. Publishers will be able to sign-up to the platform and use it to sell ad space on their webpages. ComboTag will inject appropriate ads onto the page. These will then be whitelisted by the AdBlock Plus extension.
The move should please the publishing industry which generally views ad blocking as a threat. AdBlock Plus said it hopes to start the discussion between users, publishers and ad providers, moving the industry to a sustainable approach that doesn't intrude on users. Ad networks have recently begun to realise that the current method is no longer appropriate but no solution is currently on the horizon. Eyeo invited users to provide feedback on the platform, helping it to fine-tune its guidelines and make the web a better place for publishers and consumers.
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