As IAB Bars One Ad Blocker From Its Summit, It Welcomes Another One on Stage

Adblock Plus Finds Registration Cancelled, Ghostery to Speak

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While ad blocking pioneer Adblock Plus has been disinvited from the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual leadership summit in California, a different ad blocking software provider is still attending and speaking on stage.

Adblock Plus said on its blog last week that it attended IAB's leadership summit last year and had registered to return, but was disinvited from this year's event. The software company suggested that the unexpected cancellation of its registration owed to the threat ad blocking poses to the industry.

"The over 400,000,000 downloads of AdBlock Plus are not going to go away," the blog post read. "Disallowing Adblock Plus from attending your event solves nothing. We will proceed to work with others to build a sustainable monetization model for the Internet."

Still on schedule to attend the IAB's leadership summit meeting, however, is Scott Meyer, CEO and co-founder of Ghostery, a popular anti-tracking extension. Mr. Meyer will be on stage with Scott Cunningham, senior VP of technology and ad operations at the IAB. The event's description reads, "Ad blocking is not a crisis -- it's a clarion call from consumers, who are reminding publishers, agencies, marketers and technologies that the user comes first, last, and always."

Ghostery is a popular web extension that blocks advertisements as well as a user's browsing history, making targeted ads that much more difficult to deploy.

Adblock Plus spokesman Ben Williams told Ad Age that "Ghostery is in the same realm" of Adblock Plus and that it "offers a similar services as we do."

"I can't presume as to why they are still attending and why we aren't," Mr. Williams said. "I've said my peace in the blog post. I wish them the best and I also wish that I could still be present."

The IAB on Tuesday declined to say why Adblock Plus was unwelcome while Ghostery would appear onstage. After Adblock Plus complained about the cancellation of its registration last week, the IAB issued a statement that said, "The IAB Annual Leadership Meeting is for serious conversation among important digital-industry stakeholders."

Ghostery does not generate revenue from its ad-blocking activities. It makes money by selling data on users who opt in to provide anonymous information on the websites they visit. Companies use the data to audit their websites.

Adblock Plus's Acceptable Ads initiative is designed to whitelist publishers whose ads are not intrusive or annoying. One of the ways the company generates revenue is by asking large publishers on its whitelist to help fund the program, which IAB President-CEO Randall Rothenberg has called a shake-down.

"The idea that we would just accept a big bag with a dollar symbol for ads to be whitelisted is just ridiculous," Mr. Williams said. "About 10% on the list pay us money. This allows us to be viable and to be completely free for the 90% of the people who don't pay to be on our whitelist. Our criteria must be abided by to be on that list."