The ad-blocking cat and mouse game Internet users and content publishers are playing online is about to get more interesting, as a former Googler apparently says his new company has a high-tech means of smashing through “all the ad blockers.”
After selling online advertising optimization company Admeld to Google for $400 million in 2011, Ben Barokas became the search giant’s general manager of marketplace development. But he quit the company to form Sourcepoint, the startup that thinks it has technology to block all ad-blockers.
Barokas told Business Insider that the company already provides the tech to two dozen top-100 comScore publishers free of charge for the time being, offering them ad blocker circumvention software and free analytics that helps them learn more about the who their ad-blocking audiences are.
But Sourcepoint doesn’t want to simply block the countermeasures set in place by ad-blocking programs, and free those ads for publishers. Instead, Barokas wants to give publishers a way of streamlining their “transactions” with readers.
Publishers will be able to sell their free content to readers either by convincing them to allow ads when viewing their content, or by paying for specific content. Sourcepoint will deliver the message and create a way for the transaction to take place seamlessly.
Sourcepoint customers will be able to present readers using an ad blocker with a message that offers options. The publisher could tell users that ads pay for content, and encourage them to either enable ads, subscribe to a site to enjoy the content for free, or view a certain number of ads to unblock stories. The publisher can also choose to circumvent the ad-blocking program and still present the ad.
“It’s blackmail. It’s extortion. It’s not fair,” the former Google worker said about the practice of some ad blockers when it comes to charging media companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to whitelist their ads.
“That being said, [ad blocking] is not against the law, it’s legal in Germany, the US, the UK … but at the end of the day it’s also legal for publishers to give people messages and say you can choose ads. It’s not fair for journalists like you not to have food at your table, it’s not fair not to have a roof over your head. It goes back to transparency and fairness … if users opt-in to having advertising subsidizing the experience, we can serve that ad, [and if an ad blocker continues to block the ads] then that would be illegal.”
Most recently, Apple has revealed ad-blocking support in Safari mobile, a move even making ad-blocking leader AdBlock Plus nervous. Meanwhile, even though Google appears to have lost some $6.6 billion last year to ad blockers, it isn’t making an ad blocker beater of its own, which appears to be one reason why Barokas quit the company.