Adblock Plus exchange launch hits trouble

Adblock Plus is launching a platform that will allow publishers to insert what it deems "acceptable ads" on their websites and advertisers to bid for the space, but has run into communication issues.

Adblock Plus co-founder Till Faida
Adblock Plus co-founder Till Faida

The launch would see the company, which has become popular with internet users by helping them block ads and unpopular with the media industry by charging to get some ads whitelisted, broaden its business into selling ads.

It has called the new product the Acceptable Ads Platform and has partnered with an ad tech company called ComboTag to establish it.

Till Faida, the co-founder of Adblock Plus and chief executive of its parent company Eyeo, said: "There are two ecosystems of online consumers out there right now: the one composed of people who block intrusive ads and the other where people do not. The Acceptable Ads Platform lets publishers reach the former group without changing anything about how they’re reaching the latter."

However, it is not clear who will supply the demand side of the platform. It initially appeared that Google and AppNexus would, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that they would take a cut of the ads they helped sell.

But according to a subsequent Business Insider report neither company says they knew anything about it, and AppNexus has since gone on to suspend ComboTag, which made the partnership claim.

AppNexus said in a statement: "We informed ComboTag this afternoon that they had no authorization to announce such a partnership, and that we are definitively refusing to make Acceptable Ads Platform available on AppNexus.

"AppNexus does not work with companies like Eyeo; we regard their business practices as fundamentally harmful to the ecosystem. Essentially, Eyeo, via its Adblock product, erects toll booths on a public road and siphons off advertising dollars that should be going directly to publishers. We hold that practice in low regard.

"ComboTag issued today's announcement without our knowledge or authorization. The only AppNexus contact with whom they previewed details of the initiative was a junior support manager who is not authorized to sign off on it. When the story posted today, we promptly informed ComboTag that we would not allow Eyeo on our platform, even through the back door."

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