The Adblock Plus Acceptable Ads Initiative Builds Steam

ABP AAAs Axel Springer was rolling out its acquisition of Business Insider on Tuesday, the German publishing giant lost a court case it brought against the Acceptable Ads initiative of Adblock Plus (ABP).

The decision gave ABP its fourth consecutive victory against European publishers hoping to prove aspects of its technology or business model are illegal. In the announcement of the court decision, ABP co-founder Till Faida called the Acceptable Ads program, which whitelists ads from more than 700 publishers, “a perfectly reasonable effort to allow well-meaning websites and responsible content producers to earn ad revenues.”

Many off-the-record executives from the supply side of the digital ecosystem, however, decry the ad-blocking white list. Only about 10% of the companies on the white list pay – ABP emphasizes that the payment is for administrative costs, not for the actual whitelisting – but even those that don’t pay are often disgruntled by the influence an outside startup can wield over their sites.

The IAB has been less discreet, with CEO Randall Rothenberg calling it extortion. He and other IAB leaders throughout Ad Week have said the industry group is open to launching litigation of its own against the service.

ABP instituted the standards for the Acceptable Ads program with significant input from its Reddit community. But that’s not the type of forum typically used by the publishing world to discuss regulatory policy.

In part to address the lack of traditional industry input, ABP announced Tuesday that it would create an independent board of developers, publishers and advertisers to oversee the Acceptable Ads program. Though members are not set, the board will take form in 2016, according to the press release.

ABP’s open-source roots drove the decision to relinquish control of the Acceptable Ads criteria, Faida said. In an email to AdExchanger, ABP operations manager Ben Williams appeared unconcerned about the involvement of others in a space where it’s been dominant.

For example, ABP’s sole revenue stream comes via whitelisting payments, but Williams has no objections to others deploying the open-source technology as part of a paid app. Williams said ABP’s app will be free in the Apple Store “when it finally gets approved,” but he sees the cottage industry of smaller, open source apps as partners, not rivals, in its larger pursuit of digital publishing upheaval.

ABP has two trials still pending in German courts.

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