From Adblocking to Acceptable Ads: Interview With Till Faida of eyeo

Ad blockers have been one of the hottest topics in advertising since 2009. CMOs, ad agencies and publishers have it in their best interest to understand and develop a new online revenue model which benefits both consumers and brands. 

A recent adblock study conducted by Pagefair found 615 mn devices use adblocking and a growth of 30% adoption in 2016. Adblock Plus is undoubtedly the most popular app and extention in the market enjoying over a few million downloads and great engagement with its users; this has led to the development of AAP. We approached Till Faida, the CEO and co-founder of eyeo to share his insights into the evolution and adoption of this new advertising concept and how it will shape the way advertisers and publishers can non-intrusively engage with online traffic. 

"615 mn devices use adblocking at a growthrate of 30% in 2016"

S: What inspired adblock technology? 

TF: Adblock Plus was created by Wladimir Palant in 2006 as a hobby project. He rewrote the original adblocking code in his spare time and aimed at giving users an easy way to block ads. Less than a year later Adblock Plus was the most downloaded Firefox add-on, a position it has retained ever since. 

S: What are Acceptable Ads? 

TF: The Acceptable Ads Initiative was created when Wladimir, Tim Schumacher and I examined different ideas on how to responsibly block ads. With ample user feedback, we settled on what would become the Acceptable Ads criteria. In the course of creating Acceptable Ads we asked Adblock Plus users how they would feel about partial ad blocking – the idea of letting in ads that were less intrusive. Over three-quarters said yes, so we began collecting user feedback to formulate the first criteria for Acceptable Ads. The idea was simple: come to us with your ads for whitelisting, and if they fit the criteria they will be whitelisted. If not, you may be able to adjust them so that they do; however, ads that do not meet the criteria will never be whitelisted as this would be a serious breach of users’ trust. 

S: What is the Acceptable Ads Platform? How does this affect the consumer, the publisher and the advertiser? 

TF: The Acceptable Ads Certification Tool (we renamed it) is an automated form of the whitelisting process. The platform contains ad placements that abide by Acceptable Ads criteria; and it allows ads to be positioned only in spots deemed appropriate by the Acceptable Ads rules for ad placement. An intuitive drag-and-drop editor gives publishers the ability to place readymade ads directly onto their site in real-time, and be instantly viewable to millions of Adblock Plus users who have agreed to allow non-intrusive ads to support their favorite websites. This does not affect users, because it’s the same criteria for whitelisting; however it makes participation in Acceptable Ads significantly easier for publishers, as they can integrate Acceptable Ads in just a few minutes. 

S: Does this mean we as consumers will get better targeted ads vs. a publisher that puts out ads at an interval of 1 minute?

TF: No, the tool does not involve tracking at all. Ads are favored based on an RTB system that relies on user feedback, not users’ browsing behavior.

S: According to you, who are the biggest supporters of the Acceptable Ads Platforms? Do you see support from CMOs of major retail brands or is there still resistance?

TF: We have been very successful in acquiring new partners of the Acceptable Ads Certification Tool. Since its launch we were able to sign up more than a 1,000 publishers and website owners. And we’re just getting started …    

S: You also recently announced the first members of the Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC), an independent group which will take over control of its Acceptable Ads program. Could you elaborate on the goals of this newly formed board? 

TF: The AAC will take over management of the Acceptable Ads criteria and the rules for whitelisting that Adblock Plus, AdBlock, Adblock Browser and Crystal all abide by to offer users the ability to block unwanted ads while allowing through better, more respectful ones for those users who choose to view ads. While eyeo is facilitating the recruitment of the members constituting the initial AAC, the various member groups represented on the committee itself will seat future committees. Also, in an industry first, an ordinary user will be seated as one of the 11 committee members  to represent consumers’ demands of the online advertising industry. Users have the chance to apply for this position through our social media channels in the upcoming weeks.

S: See a full list of the Acceptable Ads Committee members here

S: What has the adoption been among advertisers and major platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook?

TF: Advertisers and publishers worldwide are very interested in using the Acceptable Ads Platform. We’ll have more information on that later this year when we launch. No hints for now :)

S: How would you compare ads which appear on Facebook vs. whitelisted ads from Ad Block Plus? Do they meet the same criteria?

TF: Ads on Facebook are very often autoplay video ads which do not meet the criteria of Acceptable Ads. Especially on mobile devices these ads consume a lot of bandwidth, which of course on the mobile web equals money and are thus not very appreciated. 

S: Recently publishers like The Wired and Forbes have refused access to individuals who use Ad Blockers and some have even employed technology to block, ad blocks – how do you counteract this?

TF: We don’t, for the simple reason that website owners have the authority over who can access the content of their pages. Sites which have decided to go this route, however, seem to have suffered for it: 

S: What will be the key take away from your session at Savage Marketing this June in Amsterdam? 

TF: I will discuss how responsible ad blocking is the most sustainable way to respect the interests of publishers and users. Further, I believe that online monetisation has to develop and recognize new forms of monetisation which depend on the users’ involvement and appreciation of the content. Our new solution Flattr Plus, which will be released in its beta version soon, allows users to seamlessly support content creators by setting a monthly amount which is then distributed evenly to the websites the user has engaged with.   

Join Till and other advertising professionals at Savage Marketing this June in Amsterdam for what can only be an engaging conversation in the evolution of online consumer engagement and revenue generation.  

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