The company behind Adblock Plus, Eyeo, which is my employer, recently announced the launch of an Acceptable Ads Certification Tool. The echo was very mixed in international press, but a number of publications have spun the news into a tiny headline: “Adblock is going into ad sales.”
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Our mission at Eyeo is to empower users while keeping the web free. There is no way to empower users online without allowing them the freedom to block content – from ads to trackers to scripts – that they don’t want to see. And there is no viable way to fund most online content without ads. The Acceptable Ads standard squares that circle. It is the future – a better way to block ads. The Acceptable Ads Certification Tool is actually only one step further on this path – one we’ve been on for quite a while now. Simply put, it automates the whitelisting process especially for medium-sized website owners.
As you might know, in its default setting, Adblock Plus and other ad-blocking extensions ship with an activated whitelist that contains exceptional filter rules for advertising that follows certain guidelines. The whitelist is managed and maintained by Eyeo, but it is also an open solution which is used by other extension providers. Publishers can apply to have ads on their websites whitelisted on our homepage.
After the application a manual checking and compliance process, which sometimes requires long communication and manual efforts for the publishers, follows. Like the platform the goal of an automated solution is to facilitate this manual process while giving publishers access to the demand of advertisers who want to reach users who opted into the whitelist.
Furthermore, advertisers interested in following the Acceptable Ads criteria should be able to show their ads on acceptable ad placements to a relevant user base. Adblock users with an activated Acceptable Ads feature should only be exposed to advertising that fulfills the criteria and doesn’t interrupt their online experience. A better technology can only help here, too.
Some things just weren’t possible. For instance when an advertiser wants to create a brand campaign according to the Acceptable Ads criteria she should be able to use her standard tools for booking and distributing the campaign. Up to now the whitelist solution has been unattractive for advertisers as buying inventory was too complicated. As a result publishers were left with a limited range of options for ads they could display to the whitelist users.
Many native ad formats already fulfill the criteria for Acceptable Ads
Overall the idea behind the tool is to make all this possible in an automated way. And as Eyeo is not an ad-tech company itself we give licenses to partners from this space (e.g. ComboTag) who build technology to automate the compromise solution of the whitelist.
As we recommend to build advertising in accordance with the user’s browsing experience many native ad formats already fulfill the criteria for Acceptable Ads. The critical thing is that advertisers must label their native ads properly as “advertising,” separate them from organic content and instead of being annoying make them useful (i.e. relevant) for the users.
So naturally any platform solution will also include the option to use and build your own native formats for whitelist users.
The current platform solution that ComboTag is building is still in beta, but as a publisher you can sign up and start customizing your website for whitelist users. We also invite brand advertisers to have a look, too, as this solution gives you access to unreached audiences.
For ad-tech companies serving publishers and/or advertisers we strongly recommend leveraging Eyeo’s open whitelist concept. It offers you the chance to build your own solution for more than 100 million Acceptable Ads users, and it gives publishers and advertisers or the opportunity to work with other companies on complementing technologies. Ad blocking is a phenomenon which is here to stay, so let’s build something together that empowers users while giving publishers a chance to monetize their content with ads.