Ad Block Developer Eyeo is Now Selling Adverts, and That’s Okay

4984083976_d155deb81f_bSo the big web news today is that the German company Eyeo has shifted gears from building a plugin which users can install and block adverts to running what I would call an "ethical" ad network.

For the longest time Eyeo has hada program where sites with "acceptable ads" can get them whitelisted (the company has also taken kickbacks from ad networks to allow ads through).

That acceptable ads program was voluntary for both users and web publishers, and so is the new iteration.

On Tuesday Eyeo announced a program where web publishers can find ads which will be allowed through Eyeo's acceptable ads whitelist.

Starting today we’re launching the beta version of a fully functional ad-tech platform that will make whitelisting faster and easier. To do it, we teamed up with publisher platform-provider ComboTag to build what will be known as the Acceptable Ads Platform, an interactive platform that lets publishers and bloggers choose from a marketplace of pre-whitelisted ads that they can drag and drop onto their sites.

The AAP will cut the whitelisting process from weeks to seconds, and all publishers have to do is implement a single line of code. If you’d like to read more about it, we put out a press release this morning detailing it.

A lot of the coverage is hostile (Boing Boing, for example, says that Eyeo is "taking a shit on both of us") but most of that is coming from web publishers who are pissed that anyone is blocking adverts, much less that Eyeo is selling replacement ads.

I too was initially irked by the news; while I am fine with users blocking ads, I'm not so happy that Eyeo is selling them.

But once I confirmed that this was opt-in, and managed to stop looking at it from the viewpoint of a web publisher, I figured out what we are really seeing here.

Eyeo has launched an ad network which blocks the most annoying adverts, the loudest adverts, and the most dangerous adverts. It's an ad network which respects the user.

In my view, that makes this an "ethical" ad network. That is a market niche which almost everyone is ignoring; in fact, the only other company I can name which is addressing the problem of annoying adverts is Brave and its web browser.

Say what you will about how Eyeo got to this point, but this ad network only exists, and it _can_ only exist, because online advertising is so terrible.

The bandwidth-draining adverts, the malware-serving adverts, and the spying adverts are all indirectly responsible for bringing this ad network into existence, and web publishers who use those ads are directly responsible.

Those publishers and their annoying ads created both the need and the opportunity for Eyeo's new ad network.

It's not evil, it's not terrible, and it's not even illegal.

Instead, this ad network is merely a reflection of the problems in online advertising.

image by StevenSimWorld

About Nate Hoffelder (11579 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

10 Comments on Ad Block Developer Eyeo is Now Selling Adverts, and That’s Okay

  1. No mention of tracking. I don’t block ads because they’re big or annoying.

  2. Perhaps. But I read the article you cited and the press release and they didn’t mention it. And they’re the ones serving ads so color me skeptical.

  3. Incidentally I dug deeper. If you click the link and read the article and browse to the acceptableads.com website and then to the faq you come this this item:

    What are the criteria for an ad to be declared an Acceptable Ad?
    The criteria for what makes an Acceptable Ad can be found here?.

    The ‘here’ is a hyperlink. It leads to a 404 not found page.

  4. My current view on this is that this is eerily like mafia extortion. They’re doing precisely what the mafia does – eliminate the supply of a resource to a population, and then step in by offering the same resource yourself, with a small commission fee, of course 😉

    This would never be legal in the real world. You’re a playwright with a play in the local theatre. The mafia steps in, offering theatre-goers a way to watch your play for free without compensating you (hey, if you wanted people to buy tickets, you shouldn’t have made parts of the play so loud and obnoxious, right?). Once your income has dwindled, they step in offering you a ticketmaster service whereby they ensure some of your patrons are forced to buy tickets now.

    This is egregious behaviour.

    • “The mafia steps in, offering theatre-goers a way to watch your play for free without compensating you”

      Except in this analogy “the Mafia” didn’t offer anything; the audience sought the Mafia’s assistance out because the theater had people going up and down the aisle, screaming in the audience’s ear to pitch snacks. That screaming was ruining the show, so some audience members found the mafia on a back street, went through the complicated steps to get the Mafia’s help, and then got to watch the show without being screamed at.

      Sorry, but I can’t feel sympathy for the theater owners who hired people to scream at the audience. And that’s what is going on with advertising on the web.

  5. It doesn’t matter if the theater owner encouraged bad behavior and if the theater patron called the mafia themselves.

    “Your honor, perhaps I am a hired hitman… but in my defense the husband called me and the wife totally let herself go, and was always screaming and nagging.”

    Honestly the whole thing goes away for me once there’s an ad network that shows ads. No javascript. Maybe cookies since I can block third party cookies.

    That model should work. When I buy a magazine off the news stand they get about the same information.

    I’d even trade individual websites a little demographic information up front when information create an account for slightly less obnoxious ads.

    But this privacy busting no way to avoid tracking business I won’t stand for. And I dont.

  6. “Except in this analogy “the Mafia” didn’t offer anything; the audience sought the Mafia’s assistance out because the theater had people going up and down the aisle, screaming in the audience’s ear to pitch snacks. That screaming was ruining the show, so some audience members found the mafia on a back street, went through the complicated steps to get the Mafia’s help, and then got to watch the show without being screamed at.

    Sorry, but I can’t feel sympathy for the theater owners who hired people to scream at the audience. And that’s what is going on with advertising on the web.”

    Nate, you ignore a very vital aspect of the situation here – people are not entitled to free plays. If the theatre management ruins their own show for customers, the solution is to avoid the theatre, not to get the mafia involved to rip off the playwright. The response to a business with a poor product is not stealing the product from them.

    You speak as if the play is a basic utility that people cannot live without and have a fundamental right to.

    • Let’s drop the analogy; it no longer fits.

      I was just going for people are going to use ad-blockers and there’s nothing we can do to stop them, but if you want to discuss what people are entitled to have:

      People have a right to not be harassed by ads.

      They have a right to not be tracked.

      They have a right to not have their computer slowed to a crawl because of ads.

      They have a right to be not be hacked by malvertising.

      They have a right to not pay for a huge bandwidth costs for ads.

      The thing is, you don’t find out that you have a problem with ads until it’s too late, which is why it is okay to block ads in anticipation of problems (it’s web security 201).

      To be clear, I am not saying people are entitled to a free show. But they are entitled to go about their business unmolested.

      I don’t think that’s the same thing, but YMMV.

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