Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Pay to Unblock Ads

Adblock Plus has been taking money from major tech companies to have their ads unblocked.

Google was the first company revealed to have paid for whitelisting with the popular advert blocking extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, but now it appears that Amazon and Microsoft have also paid Adblock Plus for whitelisting.

The Financial Times (paywalled) also reports that Taboola, which provides sponsored links to third-party sites, is paying not to be blocked.

Ad-blocking software often courts controversy. Adblock Plus is among the services that have been subject to repeated criticism and legal action from companies concerned about the damage it is doing to their revenue.

Users see the ad blockers as a bastion of free choice, allowing them to opt out of the monetization of the free Internet. But ad blockers are also commercial operations and, while provided free to the end user, still have to support themselves in a free market economy.

Whitelisting for the little guy has always been an option, providing they conform to strict criteria such as no animation and no masquerading as content. In its FAQs, Adblock Plus explains, “Note that we will never whitelist any ads that don’t meet these criteria. There is no way to buy a spot in the whitelist. Also note that whitelisting is free for small- and medium-sized websites.”

It goes on to explain, “In addition, we received start-up capital from our investors, like Tim Schumacher, who believe in Acceptable Ads and want to see the concept succeed.” 

However, it seems that a deal, which the FT states is for 30 percent of the extra advertising revenue earned by the unblocking of ads from firms like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, was too good to miss.

There has been no official word from Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, but the Adblock community has expressed its concerns in a number of forum threads. 

We are hoping to get some clarification from Eyeo on the matter soon.

In 2013, Google blocked all ad-blocking apps from the Play Store, although users can still sideload the application for Android. At around the same time, versions for Mac OS and iOS were released.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

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