Published on July 15th, 2013


Google Pays AdBlock Plus to Have Ads Whitelisted

One of the tools we suggest consumers may want to keep handy is an ad-blocking browser extension. The most popular of these is AdBlock Plus. AdBlock Plus allows users to hide most online advertisements for a less cluttered browsing experience. Since its 2011 Acceptable Ads initiative, AdBlock Plus has maintained a whitelist of unobtrusive ads that are allowed through its filter. In order to get whitelisted, ads must meet a set of community-determined criteria. No banner, pop-up, or video ads are allowed through. Some smaller advertisers can get on the list for free, while other larger companies have to pay an unspecified amount. According to AdBlock Plus:

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.

Among those paying to be on the list is Google. But recently, there’s been a lot of  discussion about this. According to PCWorld:

Google is a multi-national entity that makes most of its revenue through advertising. […] Their financial influence over the popular ad gatekeeper could give them an unfair advantage over smaller companies that may want to break into the ad game.

A recent report by PageFair estimated that ad blocking cost Google around $887 million in lost revenue in 2012. PageFair argues that the future of a free Internet depends on ads.

The questions seem to be: Is the point of AdBlock Plus to block annoying ads, or to curate them? Is part of that decision financially motivated?

Users can opt out of the Acceptable Ads feature in their browser extension settings. “Allow some non-intrusive advertising” is automatically checked on AdBlock Plus and must be manually unchecked to disable the feature.


This story was updated 8/12/13.

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