Google pays AdBlock Plus not to block its ads

by: Kyle WiggersJuly 7, 2013


Ever look for an ad filtering browser plugin to keep annoying, obtrusive advertisements off of your computer screen? Chances are you ended up installing Adblock Plus, a free product with millions of users. What you probably didn’t know, though, is that Adblock doesn’t function as indiscriminately as you might expect; though the program hides a number of advertisements by default, ad giants like Google can and do pay Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, to keep their advertisements on the company’s Acceptable Ads whitelist. By default, display ads from those who pay are visible even when Adblock is enabled.

The policy isn’t exactly new. Eyeo implemented the Acceptable Ads whitelist back in 2011, in part to prevent depriving small websites of valuable ad revenue. The move was also pragmatic: per the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Abdblock Plus website, managing a list of whitelisted ads can be expensive, and so charging larger properties to participate keeps the Acceptable Ads initiative viable.

The inclusion of a whitelist in ad blocking software may seem disingenuous, but Eyeo co-founder Till Faida thinks of it as a way to promote positive change in the online advertising sphere. In an interview with Digital Trend’s Molly McHugh, Faida suggests the company’s philosophy is more about reaching a happy compromise between internet users and advertisers than shutting advertisers out altogether. Less in-your-face ads are a start, apparently: the Acceptable Ads policy mandates advertisements be nonintrusive.

Considering (1) the number of small internet publishers that rely solely on ads for income, and (2) the services companies like Google provide at no charge, Eyeo’s policy looks reasonable. Adblock Plus’s current approach allows legitimate ads while discouraging harmful ones, and in doing so hopefully helps to shape the online advertising landscape for the better. Greater transparency is warranted, granted – knowing exactly how much Eyeo charges certain advertisers would be a great start –  but the balance Eyeo’s struck between internet users and ad companies is sound.

  • MasterMuffin

    As long as I get rid of the spam ads “you have won”, “shoot this and win”, “your computer is missing that plugin (though it really isn’t), download our crap that has nothing to do with it” and others like that :)

  • Luka Mlinar

    No problem. I’m sure there’s n alternative to AdBlock. I remember people moved from BS player over night. Something that’s probably gonna happen to WhatsAPP at some point.

    • Topcat488

      speaking of WhatsApp, i just received a message and sent one, internationally… FREE… Okay, next year they want $.89, for the YEAR. :) I Like, WhatsApp.

      • Luka Mlinar

        I have a ton of friends that use WhatsAPP. Only person that would be tempted to pay the one dollar out of all of them is me. Mosley because they are not geeks and rather not use it then go trough the hassle. I don’t own a credit card so paying for it is a problem. After this one global year so many people will buzz that most of the people that would pay will lose interest. They should have separated it to free and premium version. At least that way it would survive. As it stands it will likely lose a ton of costumers then sell out to someone who thinks they can revive it by offering it to every1 for free. Not like this didn’t happen before.

        • Leonardo Baez

          i am using whatsaspp since I used a nokia 5800… never paid a cent. That is more than 4 years now

    • Omar

      Just use the original Adblock

      • Luka Mlinar

        I could have used the original BS player. Didn’t :P

  • Paolo T.

    As long as ABP blocks the ‘Download now!!!’ links whenever come to Mediafire or whatever to download some game mod files or DotA maps, I’m happy.

    Not so sure with this development though, if it will mean that we get to see Youtube ads before a video even with ABP (It’s frustrating – the ads themselves load faster than the actual videos!) (pretty sure there’ll still be a ‘no ads at all’ checkbox…)

  • lil bit

    Trust me, adblock is fooling you. Uninstall it and you will almost instantly win 20 iPads and all the single ladies in your area will want to meet you. The makers of adblock want all the iPads and girls for themselves.

    • Mike Bastable

      Best post of the week, easy.

      • risk Alfred


    • Kyle Wiggers

      Awesome post.

  • Paul Allen

    I don’t really mind ads if they’re quickly and easily identified as such. To be honest, I’m more annoyed by all those social network plugins that take forever to load. That’s the main reason I use Ghostery.

    • Rob

      I blocked google ads long before AdBlock did it by default.

      “Download Star Wars Episode 1 here”. It was still in theaters
      “Get your free PS3”. It wasn’t even *announced* yet.

      If you can’t be bothered to keep scams out, I can’t be bothered to read your ads.