In a sudden pivot that seems ominously reminiscent of a classic Onion article, Adblock Plus has revealed what could be its very own “sinister phase two.” As reported by The Verge, the bane of ad revenue-dependent websites has now declared that not all ads are bad, and—as a matter of fact—some ads are actually perfectly “acceptable.” But how does one tell the difference between a good ad and a bad ad? It’s simple, really: Adblock Plus itself is selling the good ads.
The basic idea is that Adblock Plus is launching an “ad marketplace” that will allow website owners to choose “acceptable” ads that are theoretically less obtrusive than pop-ups and auto-play video. Then, when an Adblock Plus user visits this page, they’ll only see the “acceptable” ads and not the website’s normal ads. This is really an expansion of an existing program within Adblock Plus, but that system required everyone involved to agree to “whitelist” an ad for it to get through the Adblock filter. Now, sites will be able to select pre-whitelisted ads, saving them a step and getting them at least some ad revenue in the process.
However, The Verge believes that some people still won’t be happy with this, especially since the acceptable ads will probably be less valuable to websites than normal ads are. Plus, it argues that this move just makes Adblock Plus into a “gatekeeper charging a toll to get through a gate of its own making”—which is a polite metaphor for this situation. Whether people like it or not, the new ad marketplace went into beta today, and the full version is set to launch later this year.