AdBlock Plus’ list of acceptable ads to be run by independent board

Eyeo has been accused of extorting large companies in exchange for placement on a list of advertisers whose promotions aren’t hidden from consumers by AdBlock Plus, a popular tool which promises to make browsing the Web easier by hiding most ads. Now it’s planning to give control over the controversial list to an independent board that will decide the requirements which must be met by its prospective members.
Details about the independent board remain scarce, but an Eyeo spokesperson told Gigaom that the company is “tentatively hoping for early 2016” and that it doesn’t “have a concrete timeframe” for the board’s establishment. The Guardian reports that the company is seeking “representatives from advertising, publishing and the public” for the board, but it hasn’t yet revealed any specific membership candidates.
Eyeo has been criticized for its revenue model since the Financial Times revealed in February that companies like Taboola, Microsoft, and Google pay to be on its list of acceptable advertisers. A digital media company told the Times that Eyeo asked it to pay “a fee equivalent to 30 per cent of the additional ad revenues that it would make from being unblocked” in exchange for having its advertisements placed on the list.
At the time, I argued that Eyeo’s revenue model was another example of a Silicon Valley company hiding behind lofty ideals, such as improving Web browsing, while covertly using its software to suit other purposes. The company didn’t offer a free ad-blocker just so it could improve the Web; it also used the tool to personally profit based on the sheer number of people who trusted it to block any ad they might see.
That criticism was stoked when the Wall Street Journal reported that Dean Murphy, the maker of the popular Crystal ad-blocker for iOS, would be paid to use Eyeo’s list of acceptable advertisers in his own application. This would provide Murphy with two revenue streams — Crystal’s a paid application — for a software tool that belongs to a category that many believe could prove disastrous to ad-dependent publishers.
Here’s what Murphy said in a blog post about his decision to use this list:

[B]y blocking all advertising with brute-force, it doesn’t promote a healthy mobile web that is sustainable and allows publishers to make a living from the free content they provide. By including the option for a user-managed whitelist and Acceptable Ads, I’m hoping to empower users to be able to support the mobile web in any way they see fit. […] In the long term, I’m hoping this convinces advertising agencies and publishers to reassess the kind of advertising they are using and bring them inline to a either the Acceptable Ads (or similar) criteria.

Arguments about whether or not it’s acceptable for ad-blocking companies to accept fees aren’t likely to be resolved now that Eyeo plans to set up an independent board. Here’s what a spokesperson said in response to my question about how Eyeo will make money when the independent board takes control of the list of acceptable ads:

We will continue to receive compensation from the larger entities on the whitelist. That’s about 10 percent of them all. However, those companies first have to uphold criteria (as do the 90 percent who don’t pay). It’s just that now an independent board made up of representatives from all over the map (figuratively and literally) will alter, update and enforce those criteria. Big, big change.

Big change indeed. I suspect it won’t change much about the conversation around the list, though. Even if it’s managed by an independent board, and even if all its members have to meet stringent requirements about ad quality, there will always be people upset that their favorite ad-blocker is making money by letting ads through. Eyeo could be in the right on this one, but it’s going to be criticized all the same.

Twitter left a lot unanswered with new ad strategy, but Wall Street didn’t mind

Twitter left a lot of questions unanswered about its new syndicated ad network, but it looks like Wall Street didn’t mind. The social company’s stock closed up six percent after it announced it would start powering promoted tweets on other sites. The tweets would look a lot like they do in Twitter.

A mockup of a promoted tweet that could appear outside Twitter

A mockup of a promoted tweet that could appear outside Twitter

It’s sort of a confusing premise, one that led Re/Code to call it a “concept” rather than a “full-blown product.” Would promoted tweets appear on the sidebars of websites? Would they pop up embedded in posts? Would they only show up in widgets that serve up a bunch of tweets? Twitter’s blog post on the news didn’t elaborate further, aside from saying they’d appear on Twitter’s first partners: Flipboard and eventually Yahoo Japan.

Flipboard is an obvious integration, since tweets are already part of the content. Flipping past a promoted tweet as you go through stories would feel natural. “Because Flipboard already integrates organic Tweets into the app, the Promoted Tweet will have the same look and feel that is native to the Flipboard experience,” the Twitter post said.

I was struggling to think of many other examples where there are streams of tweets on other websites. Most media companies embed or show one-off tweets, so a promoted tweet there would look jarring and might keep journalists in particular from embedding tweets. A few years ago, embedded widgets showing latest tweets by certain users were very popular, but I haven’t seen those in awhile. I asked Twitter for more examples of where they imagine these promoted tweets appearing, and I’ll update this if I hear back.

On the surface, Yahoo Japan is a weirder partner choice than Flipboard. Why would Twitter want to work with an Asian arm of a struggling media brand?

Turns out, Yahoo Japan is its own separate entity — the American Yahoo helped found it in conjunction with telecommunications company SoftBank. Yahoo Japan’s popularity has continued to soar even as Yahoo’s has plummeted. And Twitter is hugely popular in Japan as well. It’s an easy way to test the product before courting other companies.

A source familiar with the Twitter’s strategy told me they’re still developing this new promoted tweet strategy and will be releasing more information in the future. The person I spoke with said that we can expect to see promoted tweets both in feeds of tweets from the website, but also as standalone units. “The promoted tweet is a trusted and known unit and it looks and feel really easily digestible,” they said. “You need users to say, ‘This is content I’m ok with having here.'”

That’s key for Twitter’s new external ad strategy to succeed. Given the fact that the company is serving up promoted tweets, not newly designed ads, it has to hope people like that format.

How Can Advertising Work on the Social Web?

Who said that the advertising models of print and yesteryear would be sustainable online? Everyone just hoped they’d translate, because porting old models onto new platforms didn’t require much innovation or effort.

Nano Ad Screen Goofs?


With the new iPod nano featuring a built in video camera, Apple’s latest commercial really highlights how easy it is to use. Entitled “Nano Shoots Video,” the spot makes it look super easy and trendy to shoot video, but does the commercial really tell the truth?

Looking at the structure of the iPod nano, the camera is actually found in the lower left corner of the backside. For some, this would be be a bit awkward when holding it, to ensure not covering up the camera.

iPod nano & camera location

Generally speaking, Apple’s commercial takes this into account, with careful positioning of holding the iPod. But in reality, is the location of the camera the best possible place? For those of you who have already purchased one, what are your thoughts? Read More about Nano Ad Screen Goofs?

Microsoft Backs Down After Apple Legal Threats, Changes Ad


After so brazenly bragging about Apple’s (s aapl) legal department’s request that one of Microsoft’s (s msft) ads be pulled last week, Redmond has quietly made changes to the ad in question to make sure that it accurately reflects reality, which is what Apple wanted in the first place. Kind of puts a damper on Microsoft COO Kevin Turner’s bubbly enthusiasm, I’d imagine.

Last week, he basically did a little dance for joy when he received the call from Apple legal, and trumpeted the news to the masses to make sure everyone knew that Microsoft had indeed scored a direct hit, even going so far as to call it “the greatest single phone call” he’s ever taken. The ads in question are the Laptop Hunter series, in which Microsoft gives random people a sum of money and challenges them to find their perfect laptop, at which point they get it for free. The ads were created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Read More about Microsoft Backs Down After Apple Legal Threats, Changes Ad