Adblock Plus Plans Its First Monetization Offer Beyond Its Controversial Whitelist

abpflattrimgThe German startup Eyeo GmbH, which owns Adblock Plus (ABP), debuted a partnership Tuesday with Sweden-based micropayments provider Flattr in which ABP users will pay for their online content in a new way.

The service, called Flattr Plus, sets a minimum threshold for ABP users to pay each month for content. That monthly fee gets distributed to whichever content providers those users have engaged with the most, said ABP operations manager Ben Williams.

Williams anticipates this model will contribute $500 million to content creators next year.

“The idea comes from something we’ve heard a lot from our own users, which is that they don’t want the advertising experience they have on the web, but they want to reward content they like,” said Williams.

The public beta phase begins later this month and runs throughout the year, in which ABP and Flattr will work out the kinks – the biggest of which is exactly how to allocate user fees to publishers.

“We’ll be looking at what content engagement metrics work best,” Williams said. Did a user scroll through 8,000 pixels and spend a minute or more on the page? If there was video or music, did it get played? Was there any other engagement opportunity on the page?

“We want to pick up on indicators like that, and then we’ll automatically divvy up the dollars that user offered for browsing that month.”

Unlike most digital advertising, which allocates fractional revenue per visitor or viewer, the idea is to reward sites users return to and meaningfully engagement with.

“If somebody does go to 100 different sites every month, then it’ll be doled out accordingly,” said Williams. “But most people engage very often with the same few sites.”

ABP and Flattr will split 10% of user “donations,” which is Flattr’s current business model. ABP also owns a minority stake in Flattr, so nudging users and publishers onto its roster makes other kinds of business sense as well.

For publishers who aren’t Flattr partners (yet), ABP can offer its new funding pool as a carrot in order to sign up.

Williams said publishers and other industry stakeholders will be involved in fine-tuning the model during the beta phase, but that many publishers prefer this system to IAB standards and “drive-by impressions” that get counted just the same regardless of user choice or engagement.

There’s also likely to be a strong push back from publishers, many of whom deeply begrudge ABP’s dominion over their monetization channels (vanishing ABP users, or distorting the site when they turn on ABP). On top of that, Flattr founder Peter Sunde is notorious among web creators and the entertainment industry, having recently served half a year in prison for his role as co-founder and leader of The Pirate Bay, an online index of pirated media.


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