Eyeo, the parent company of Adblock Plus, has named the first members of its Acceptable Ads Committee — an independent board who will decide which online ads some of the world’s most popular ad blockers will whitelist.
The Acceptable Ads Committee will be responsible for the Acceptable Ads program that allows “non-intrusive” ads that meet certain standards to be served to users of Adblock Plus, AdBlock, Adblock Browser, and Crystal. The four ad blocking services have been downloaded to an estimated 130 million devices, combined. Around 92% of Adblock Plus’ users are opted-in to Acceptable Ads.
The Acceptable Ads program is controversial among many members of the advertising and media communities because it’s also how Eyeo makes money from Adblock Plus. While Acceptable Ads is free for “90%” of sites, big advertising companies like Google, Criteo, Taboola, and Amazon pay Eyeo large fees to get their ads whitelisted.
The new board will consist of 11 committee members, who will represent nine industry groups: advertisers; ad tech; ad agencies; publishers; experts; user advocates; and one actual ad blocker user. (You can read the full list of members who have a seat on the board, plus companies who will form part of the wider Acceptable Ads coalition, advising board members, below.) So far, eight of the seats are filled.
Those on the board will be responsible for having a conversation with the members of their industry bout the types of ads that should be whitelisted and whether the current Acceptable Ads criteria should be altered in any way. They will then meet with the other board members later this year. Board members are not compensated for their time.
While Eyeo is recruiting the initial board members, the company says the current board will be responsible for signing up future participants.
The launch of the board follows more than a year of discussions between Eyeo and the advertising and media industry across the US and Europe about how it should go about governing its Acceptable Ads program.
A lot can happen in a year.
Last September, Google, Facebook, News Corp and more than a dozen other companies and trade groups formed the “Coalition for Better Ads,” designed to create global standards for online advertising. The standards are set to be deployed using technology that scores ads based on criteria such as load time and tracking pixels, with only ads that meet a certain threshold making it through to the web pages of participating companies.
And in February, mobile ad blocking company Shine rebranded to Rainbow. The Israel-based company plans to offer consumers a mobile ad blocker — opting-in via their mobile carrier or internet service provider — that only blocks ads that don’t meet industry standards, such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s “LEAN” principles.
Speaking to Business Insider, Eyeo communications and operations manager Ben Williams said the Acceptable Ads program has a different aim.
He added: “We don’t see any reason right now why being a member of any of these groups would be mutually exclusive. Right now, the goal of the Coalition for Better Ads is to discourage ad blocking. It’s a laudable undertaking but I don’t think people will stop downloading ad blockers because there’s plenty of bad ads out there. We can’t discourage people from downloading ad blockers — we like to deal with them in a specialised way.”
Job Plas, Eyeo senior management of global partnerships, said the ad blocking company plans to implement proposals set by the Acceptable Ads board within three months.
Asked whether Eyeo had approached Google — the world’s biggest online advertising company and an Acceptable Ads customer — to apply to be on the committee, Williams said he could not go into names of specific companies that are not currently listed.
Williams admitted there had been pushback from some people Eyeo contacted: “Of course we had some people who didn’t think it would be a good idea and there were some people who had a very emotional response to even talking to an ad blocker.”
The Acceptable Ads Committee (so far)
Advertisers: Dell (seat held by Breanna Fowler, strategic partnerships and advertising)
Ad tech: Rocket Fuel Inc. (seat held by Ari Levenfeld, senior director of privacy and inventory quality); Rakuten Marketing; Native Ads, Inc.; Sharethrough; The Media Trust; BuySellAds.com Inc.; Criteo; Look Listen; ZEDO; Bidio, Inc.; Instinctive, Inc.; Adtoma AB
Advertising agencies: M&C Saatchi Mobile (seat held by Gabriel Cheng, VP of strategic growth and partnerships); The Tombras Group; Saatchi & Saatchi; TLGG; Schaaf-PartnerCentric
Publishers and content creators: Condé Nast (seat held by Kenton Jacobsen, strategic director of engineering for Vogue.com and Glamour.com); Dennis Publishing; Local Media Consortium; TED Talks; Leaf Group
Experts: Seat held by Jay Morgan of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide; and by Bloor Research International Ltd. senior analyst Fran Howarth.
User agent: Seat held by Kenny Ye, director of international business development at the Alibaba Mobile Group, maker of UC Browser.
Digital Rights Organisations: Seat held by Fight for the Future cofounder Holmes Wilson.
User: Recruiting starts March 15.
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