A new report from the Financial Times says some of the biggest tech companies — including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft — are paying the owner of Adblock Plus to unblock ads on their websites. Some companies are reportedly paying “30% of the additional ad revenues” they will make after the ads are unblocked.
They’re doing this because more people than ever are using ad blocking software, which is a growing threat to internet businesses that rely on advertising.
Based on PageFair and Adobe data (via Monday Note) charted for us by BI Intelligence, roughly 5% of all global internet users, or 144 million people, used ad blocking software during the second quarter of 2014, with most usage (almost 2/3rds) coming from Chrome and Firefox browsers. Adblock Plus makes money by “whitelisting” or accepting certain ads that meet a batch of criteria, and it looks like those larger tech companies are paying for this service. Some companies, however, are clearly threatened by Adblock Plus’ business, and are seeking damages from Eyeo, the German company that owns Adblock Plus.
Companies are responding to the ad-blocking issue in different ways, but all would agree that these services are extremely disruptive. In time, it may change how websites and services keep their operations running, forcing them to focus on new sources of revenue outside of traditional advertising.