Criteo, a public ad tech company that works with retailers to “re-target” online ads at users likely to be in the market for buying products, has joined the list of big internet advertising companies that pays the popular ad blocker Adblock Plus for its ads to be unblocked, French publication Le Journal du Net first reported.
Companies including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Taboola pay huge fees — The Financial Times pegged the price at “30% of the additional ad revenues” they would have earned were ad unblocked — to appear on Adblock Plus’ “Acceptable Ads List,” which means Adblock Plus users will see their ads unless they adjust their settings from the default to the strictest possible.
The whitelist — which allows ads through the blocker that meet certain “non-intrusive” criteria (listed here) — is free for smaller sites, but bigger companies are asked to pay a fee. Only around 10% of companies (~70 companies) on the Acceptable Ads List have paid to be there, according to Adblock Plus owner Eyeo, which says the charge is levied because it takes a lot of work for its small team to whitelist a big advertising network or publisher.
Both Criteo and Adblock Plus confirmed to Business Insider that some — not all — Criteo ads are now part of its Acceptable Ads initiative. Neither commented on the fee Criteo is paying.
Here’s the proposal submitted to the Acceptable Ads community, which helps Adblock Plus decide whether an ad should be whitelisted or not.
What’s interesting here is not only that we know another of the big companies that is paying Adblock Plus, but also the type of advertisement Adblock Plus is letting through.
A demo page in the proposal shows the type of “personalised banner ad” Adblock Plus users might now see.
I was served an ad for a takeaway website and the local Indian restaurant I ordered from the other day.
Therein lies the issue around retargeting. Often these ads are really useful, and serve as useful reminders of products you once browsed but didn’t go on to buy. Retargeting is hugely popular amongst advertisers because the method can lead to direct sales and results are easily measurable — hence why Criteo, which was once dubbed the “poster-child” of retargeting, has been outperforming the majority of the other publicly-traded ad tech companies right now.
But often you are followed around the internet by products you have already bought — it’s the biggest complaint about this type of advertising.
Adblock Plus does have an anti-tracking feature users can turn on, and the Acceptable Ads List focuses on the style of advertising formats rather than the targeting methods used.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the Adblock Plus user community reacts when they see Criteo ads as they browse the web (nobody has replied to the proposal on the forum yet.) It may well be that they genuinely find these ads useful. Or it might spark debates about whether Adblock Plus’ Acceptable Ads list should also extend to the way advertising companies track and target users too.
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