Adblock Plus Gets Blocked by Ad Exchanges

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The war over ad blocking took another set of turns.
The war over ad blocking took another set of turns. Credit: iStock
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It appears Adblock Plus has been served with a taste of its own medicine.

The popular ad blocking extension said Tuesday that it would now start selling ads that it deems acceptable through its own exchange platform. In an even more surprising twist for a company that the Interactive Advertising Bureau has likened to the mob, The Wall Street Journal reported that both Google and AppNexus would work with Adblock Plus to sell those ads.

By the end of the day Tuesday, that seemed not to be the case.

"Unfortunately, the information reported in the original article around AppNexus' involvement in any such exchange is, in fact, incorrect, and a result of an unauthorized announcement from third parties," AppNexus told Ad Age in an emailed statement.

That third party is ComboTag, the ad tech company that was supposed to help Adblock Plus sell its "acceptable" ads. AppNexus has since suspended all relationships with ComboTag and Adblock Plus parent EyeoGmbH.

"ComboTag issued today's announcement without our knowledge or authorization," AppNexus said in the email. "The only AppNexus contact with whom they previewed details of the initiative was a junior support manager who is not authorized to sign off on it. When the story posted today, we promptly informed ComboTag that we would not allow Eyeo on our platform, even through the back door."

"AppNexus does not work with companies like Eyeo; we regard their business practices as fundamentally harmful to the ecosystem," the company added. "Essentially, Eyeo, via its Adblock product, erects toll booths on a public road and siphons off advertising dollars that should be going directly to publishers. We hold that practice in low regard."

Google was unable to immediately respond for comment. But Business Insider reported that the search giant doesn't appear to be working with Adblock Plus, either. "We review the validity and quality of inventory made available on our platform, but have no knowledge of, or involvement in, ComboTag or Eyeo's publisher monetization arrangements," Google told Business Insider.

(UPDATE: Google said at the Dmexco conference in Cologne, Germany, on Wednesday that it was cutting ties with ComboTag over the affair.)

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article WPP has an investment stake in ComboTag; it does not.