Adblock Plus readies Apple Safari launch

Adblock Plus – an outfit that has courted controversy with its “Acceptable Ads” initiative – is poised to launch an extension allowing users of Apple’s Safari web browser to be more selective about which ads they see online.  

The company, whose ad blocking service can block online display ads, among other features, is set to launch its Safari extension within weeks, having already clocked up 50 million users of its Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera web browser  extensions (see video).  

Ben Williams, an Adblock Plus comms manager, told Marketing Week the company had waited until now to launch on Apple’s Safari browser as it wanted to make its service available on more popular browsers first. 

He adds: “Also, we wanted to be where the tech-savvy audiences are.”

The pending launch of the Safari browser extension quickly follows the launch of Facebook “customising” tool, which can block Facebook ad units earlier this week.    

Williams explains that Adblock Plus is not anti-online advertising – the company’s ”whitelist” provides advertisers with a list of terms of what it deems to be “acceptable ads” that can bypass its filter. 

Earlier this month Adblock Plus made a public appeal to Twitter to not become overly aggressive in the number of ads it pushes on to users once it goes public, and instead to join forces. 

“Your current ad offerings are actually not far from what we’d consider non-annoying,” reads the open letter penned by Williams himself. “So why not work together? We would like to partner with you to engineer acceptable, non-intrusive advertising that would conform to our guidelines and make it to our whitelist.”

Speaking with Marketing Week, Williams adds: “We agree the free content online needs advertising [to fund it] and that’s why we set up the acceptable ads initiative in 2011.” 

Adblock Plus’ acceptable ads initiative was an attempt to compromise on complete ad-blocking, which it did up until 2011, while still striving for a better user experience online, claims Williams. 

The company’s operations have created dissatisfaction among media owners – particularly smaller ones that are heavily reliant on online ads – and earlier this year it fell foul of Google which posted an Android update that effectively nullified an earlier version of Adblock Plus’ Android mobile app in what Adblock Plus termed a “David vs. Goliath battle”.   

However, Adblock Plus’ revenue stream has stirred some controversy as it relies on “larger properties” that serve non-intrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative for payments. Reports dating back to July claim that even Google paid to become “whitelisted”. Although the company claims its policy of charging large companies for “whitelisting” does not amount to paid placement. 

“We will never whitelist any ads that don’t meet these [Whitelist]  criteria. There is no way to buy a spot in the whitelist. Also note that whitelisting is free for small- and medium-sized websites.”

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