Playing Ball With the Bullies: Is AdBlock doing the right thing?

In Customer Experience, Featured on App, Marketing and Sales, Omnichannel, Technology by Vaughn Highfield

AdBlock, The Sopranos, Twitter, Google, Adverts, Marketing, Internet, Browsing, Customer Engagement, Customer experience

AdBlock: it sits there commanding the advertising arm of the internet like a mafia's protection racket would ‘defend' a small storeowner in the 1930s.

Its message is this: pay us money or get your adverts blacklisted from our service.

The trouble is, AdBlock has the clout. As we've previously mentioned in a survey of who Americans trust the least, AdBlock is used by one fifth of all global internet users. In case you haven't realised, that's an awful lot of internet users – somewhere in the region of 481,103,675 people.

Now, thanks to their impressive user base and Kickstarter efforts for funding, AdBlock Plus has come into existence and it's cracking down on big advertising platforms it deems ‘unacceptable'.

The latest target in its sights? Twitter.

After sending out an open letter to Twitter via its blog, AdBlock owner Eyeo essentially threatened the company in the same friendly manner a mobster would a local storeowner.

"We've been reading the early media analysis of your IPO filing, and we are not surprised that many industry pundits are speculating about how you are probably going to become more aggressive with your advertising…," read the post.

"We get it; you need to make money…," it continued, before changing tact, "but your users might not be too thrilled about what's in store — and that will inevitably send that many more of them running to AdBlock Plus.”

Then, Eyeo offered out an olive branch – one covered in the prickly thorns of AdBlock Plus' ‘Acceptable Ads' program that whitelists ‘acceptable advertisements'.

“So why not work together?", the post added. "We would like to partner with you to engineer acceptable, non-intrusive advertising that would conform to our guidelines and make it to our whitelist.”

Since its implementation, 777 companies have flocked to the Acceptable Ads programme, yet 50 per cent of those were rejected due to being deemed unsuitable.

Even Google is an investor in the AdBlock Plus software and some of their ‘acceptable' ads have been pushed through the filter system.

While Eyeo CEO Till Faida says that it's certainly not meant to be conceived as a threat, it certainly is one.

Its intentions may be pure: a way to create a browsing experience for consumers that isn't bombarding them with distracting and ultimately pointless adverts. But its methods are where things should be called into question.

Should advertisers and companies really take this attitude from another company? Or should they just strive to make adverts that are more interesting, memorable and ultimately more engaging?

What do you think the solution is? And would you give in to the clout of AdBlock?


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