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AdBlock Plus accused of paying off other ad blockers to let some ads through

Published Sep 17th, 2015 8:34AM EDT
iOS 9 Ad Blocking

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The new ad blocker support Apple introduced in its mobile Safari web browser in iOS 9 is causing quite a stir. Publishers are up in arms, worried that users will adopt mobile ad blockers en masse and poke huge holes in their revenue streams. Meanwhile, just one day after Apple released iOS 9 to the public on Wednesday, several ad blocker plug-ins have indeed shot up the charts in Apple’s iOS App Store.

Regardless of which side of the debate you stand on, there’s one thing we can probably all agree on: What AdBlock Plus is doing — if, and only if recent accusations turn out to be true — is both unethical and deplorable.

DON’T MISS: 15 hidden features in iOS 9

According to a report on Wednesday published by French blog Info iGen, AdBlock Plus has found a sinister way to profit from Apple’s new ad blocking feature in iOS 9.

AdBlock Plus has a monetization strategy it calls “Acceptable Ads.” The scheme allows AdBlock partners to serve white list ads that the AdBlock Plus plug-in, by default, will not block on computers or mobile devices even while the plug-in is running. As a result, users will still see these ads even if they believe all ads are being blocked, and AdBlock Plus will enjoy a cut of the revenue.

Now, this new report from Info iGen alleges that AdBlock Plus owner Eyeo is paying off other developers that make ad blocking plug-ins to employ the same policy in their own apps. But Eyeo isn’t suggesting companies build their own client lists, according to the report. Instead, Eyeo is supposedly paying out monthly fees to companies if they use AdBlock Plus’ white list and allow Eyeo client ads to escape their ad blockers unscathed.

According to the accusations, AdBlock is paying monthly fees of as much as $5,600 to companies that do not block ads on the AdBlock Plus “Acceptable Ads” white list.

Here’s where things get particularly interesting: this would be an incredibly easy report to deny, but Eyeo has declined several opportunities to deny it. Instead, the company would only say that the report is “not entirely correct.” What does that mean? Does it mean Eyeo is paying other ad blocking companies $6,000 per month and not $5,600?

On the flip side, the company did confirm attempts to contact third-party iOS 9 ad blocker developers in an effort to convince them to allow its clients’ ads through without being blocked. “[AdBlock Plus has] approached a number of independent developers who have expressed their intention to develop an iOS 9 ad blocker to see if they would consider including Acceptable Ads in their solution,” an Eyeo spokesperson told Business Insider.

Of course, he wouldn’t address the terms that Eyeo offered these third-party developers.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.