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Feb. 26, 2016, 11:03 a.m.
Business Models
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   February 26, 2016

This week in adblocking news: New York Times CEO Mark Thompson suggested the company would consider banning adblocker users who aren’t subscribers, while popular adblocking plugin Adblock Plus shone a little bit of light on its business model.

Adblock Plus doesn’t subsist on grateful users’ donations. Ben Williams, the company’s operations manager, explained in a blog post:

First, it’s mega-important to understand that when websites or advertisers apply to be on the whitelist, the specific ads they want to whitelist must meet the Acceptable Ads criteria. There is no ‘pay-to-play,’ just as there are no exceptions. We invite you to view all our whitelisted partners and discuss specific whitelisted ads in our forum.

After applying to be whitelisted and agreeing to meet criteria, a small percentage compensate us while the rest are free — but where do we draw the line between the two?

As you can see on this web page, only advertisers that stand to gain more than 10 million incremental ad impressions per month because of whitelisting are asked to sponsor. To put that in perspective, if 5 percent of a site’s users block ads, for example, then that site needs to have 200 million ad impressions to begin with in order to break the 10 million threshold.

A site’s non-ad block traffic is not included in the calculation. Using this definition, most publishers don’t pay anything at all — in our last measurement, 90 percent were free actually.

Who are these really, really large advertisers? “In off-the-record conversations, it’s widely speculated that Google pays more than all other media combined,” AdExchanger noted.

Times CEO Thompson had harsh words about adblocking (and the businesses that enable it) in a panel in New York this week. Companies like AdBlock Plus “essentially are asking for extortion to allow for ads to take place. That should not be allowed,” he said, as reported by AdWeek. In addition:

Thompson said he is considering banning ad-blocking readers who are not subscribers, as some publishers have already done. “In the end, they’re not really helping pay for what they consume,” he said.

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