Google Allegedly Pays AdBlock Plus to Whitelist Ads

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News Posted: Sat, Jul 6 2013 1:48 PM

As someone whose income relies entirely on advertising (it's the sole source of revenue for most content sites, even HotHardware), AdBlock Plus has long been a thorn in my side. But on the flipside, I like the fact that it exists, because I do feel that people should have control over their own computers, their browsing and potentially even their privacy. Because of those perks, millions use AdBlock Plus regularly.

As with most filtering apps, AdBlock Plus offers users the ability to whitelist (and let me take a moment to recommend this for sites you appreciate) either a site or an entire ad network. For its services, AdBlock Plus recommends users donate to help support the app, and as Austrian news site Horizont reveals, one of the biggest donors is none other than Google - but it's for a reason, and that is automatic whitelisting.

Google Allegedly Pays AdBlock Plus to Whitelist Ads

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, however, as ABP's own FAQ admits that this practice goes on:

Do companies pay you for being added to the list? Whitelisting is free for all small websites and blogs. However, managing this list requires significant effort on our side and this task cannot be completely taken over by volunteers as it happens with common filter lists. That's why we are being paid by some larger properties that serve nonintrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative.

Essentially, if a big ad company is deemed by AdBlock Plus to deliver only "acceptable ads", then they can earn the right to pay for automatic whitelisting. As some folks over at Hacker News have pointed out, this is actually a pretty major issue. One poster notes, "In essence, this has set up two tiers of advertising: those we have paid for white list privileges, and those who haven't." In this regard, ABP is holding everyone's ads for ransom by default, and only those who pay will set them free. We'll see if the folks behind ABP will comment on the issue, given that it's setting fire to the Web right now. 

For what it's worth, it appears that if you don't like any of the sites or networks that are automatically whitelisted, you can undo it in the settings.

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I luv this addon! I use this in combination with NoScript. I like Google also but I use AdblockPlus & NoScript to block some of their adds too.

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I use Fanboy on my browser. I extremely dislike ads.....lol - Mostly I dislike them tracking me. I also use Peerblock and its amazing how many companies are tracking you!

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If you regularly use ad blockers you're hurting the sites you visit most and basically disallowing them their primary income source. If everyone blocked ads on their favorite sites, you put them all out of business. Think about it.

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" If everyone blocked ads on their favorite sites, you put them all out of business"

If I'm forced to have ads shoved in my face, I wouldn't use the internet. If everyone used adblock then websites would have to figure out new ways to generate money. Sponsored articles, plugging brands during the video. What ever it may be.

I seriously don't want the internet to turn into T.V. 1/3-1/2 the content shouldn't be someone trying to sell me something.

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This is ridiculous. If someone is blocking an ad it is because they have no interest in said ad and will never click on it, thus, providing utterly no income to advertiser.

I understand the concern this article discusses and the questions it raises, however if the hosting is done correctly adblock is completely useless so I see little concern beyond websites needing to be a little more crafty about their methods of advertising.

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Dave_HH replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 6:22 PM

OK, so you're saying basically make the internet a paywall or put out the tip jar and hope it works.

Again, think about it. Virtually EVERY medium out there today - radio, TV, print, the internet - ALL have a CORE business model that is some form of advertising.

Ads should be relevant, high quality and meaningful to you. The better they're integrated with content subject matter, the more successful they are and the more you'll not be annoyed and actually like them - but blocking them all together does no one any good. The object is unobtrusive advertising, for sure but flat out blocks are bad for the business you come to every day for content on the net.

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Dave_HH replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 6:26 PM

Alex, I need to find out what hosts you'd recommend that could block ad blocking. :)

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I use it regularly to block ads "I don't want to see" ... I let other ads on sites I go to the most--even subscribe to their mailing list for special offers if they have what I want. Namely Newegg.. I spend thousands of dollars easily on their website. I want to be "In control" of what is shoved at my face. Thank you.

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Dave_HH replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 9:23 PM

You spend thousands on a retail site like Newegg? I'm confused... Retail sites sell things. Content sites like HotHardware and many other news and review sites don't sell anything but they provide content instead of products. There's a big difference. You won't find the content at NewEgg, just like you won't find a retail store in the traditional sense, here.

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Manduh replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 10:40 PM

I have no problem with LEGIT, SAFE ads on the sites I use but if I find something offensive, intrusive or pornographic I will enable my ad blocker for that site. I don't think it's right when sites are able to pay to be automatically added to a whitelist. I have a child who could possibly be exposed too early to the type of nonsense on a lot of ads and I would like to keep the option of disabling those types of ads. For sites I trust, like HotHardware, I ALWAYS have my AdBlock DISABLED because the ads are safe for my child to see if she was in the room. I even try to support my favourite sites by clicking on some of the ads which are relevant to me. As long as AdBlock puts in complete effort to NOT add companies to a whitelist if their ads are of bad taste I'm fine with it, but I doubt they will. If a company is willing to pay enough, I'm sure the greedy dollar signs will trump what ever content the ads have. That makes for a very unsafe internet and makes it harder for us parents to have more control over what our children are seeing. We need to be able to keep the control in our hands. What might seem ok or safe to whitelist for one person may not be ok for another.

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My main problem with ads isn't their presence; it's the delay in page loading.

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My main problem with ads isn't their presence; it's the delay in page loading.

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I whitelist websites I like and I believe that to be a relatively common practise, but by default, everything is blocked and for one major reason, websites are trying to cross sell to their affiliate websites which are owned by the same parent company, nothing drives me more insane. For example, I like eteknix,but they have a horrid video bullshit flash crap on their page.

So they don't get to show me any ads period.

I don't mind non-intrusive advertisement that doesn't interfere with the content. I don't even mind if places have sponsored articles, in fact I prefer them, because that is usually related to the content I visit said site for anyway.

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Video ads is a personal pet peeve of mine. I don't mind some of them.... some implementations are fine. But one website I hate going to (but sometimes have to) is IBTimes.co.uk. They have not one, but TWO auto-playing video ads, one generally with audio. It's sites like that, that REALLY bug me, because as far as I'm concerned, it's them that are causing so many people to use tools like AdBlock. It's frustrating.

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