Adblock Plus Wants Advertisers and Publishers to Help Administer Its Blocking

IAB CEO Has Called Whitelisting Fees a Shakedown

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Adblock Plus, one of the most popular pieces of software that consumers use to hide ads while they surf the web, has come under fire from ad industry leaders for letting publishers serve only certain "acceptable" ad formats, often accompanied by a processing fee. Now it says it will assemble an independent board to review which ads it lets through the filter.

And it's looking to the ad industry to take some seats.

The nascent board will consist of consumers, advertisers and publishers, according to a spokewoman. It's not yet clear, however, exactly who will take seats on the board. Its makeup is slated to be finalized next year.

Up until now, Adblock Plus itself has managed its Acceptable Ads program, which whitelists ads that are deemed unintrusive.

Its criteria for unintrusive advertising includes static units, preferably text only, with no animation, sound or ability to obscure the page; clear labeling such as "advertising" or the equivalent; and clear differences from surrounding content.

The Adblock Plus website says whitelisting is free for small- and medium-sized sites, but the effort to manage the list requires fees from "some larger properties."

Writing in Advertising Age last week, Interactive Advertising Bureau President-CEO Randall Rothenberg called that kind of thing a shakedown, by "unethical technology companies seeking to divert ad spending into their own pockets."

Adblock Plus countered that 90% of the 700 entites on its whiteliest do not pay.

According to the company, "Acceptable Ads is an open process where every applicant is publicly listed in a forum, and where anyone can see exactly which ads are being whitelisted and can provide feedback and criticism."

"We started as an open source project so, from day one, the Acceptable Ads program has been managed in an open and public forum," Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus, said in a statement. "Users determined the original criteria and can object in our forum to whitelisting proposals, but since we were the only ad blocker to offer such a compromise we have taken on a large role in the day-to-day maintenance of the criteria. We have been looking for a way to make the Acceptable Ads program completely independent while also updating the criteria to evolve with changing forms of online advertising. An independent board solves both issues."

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