Adblock, the popular ad-blocking tool was quietly sold last week and announced it in a discreet pop-up.
The main focus of the message was that Adblock has now joined the Acceptable Ads program, but the previous only dropped in at the end that the tool was now being sold to an anonymous buyer for an undisclosed sum. Such a low-key announcement was surprising for such a popular, and frequently-in-the-press, tool.
What does this mean for online advertisers?
While the buyer of Adblock remains unknown (apart from them being impartial experts), it is difficult to judge the future of Adblock. However, we can assess a lot from the program joining the Acceptable Ads program. Essentially advertisers can now buy themselves onto a whitelist meaning that their ads will be now viewable by default to those who would otherwise be blocking ads.
However, this isn't a free pass for advertisers just to buy themselves out of being blocked. The acceptable ads program implements some strict guidelines that ensure that advertisers are creating ads that are relevant and "not annoying".
This event ties in well with the 'death' of Flash that we saw at the beginning of September and a move towards a better ad experience online. Less Flash, more relevant banners that provide valuable and useful content to viewers.
It also marks a more sensible approach to ad blocking. More and more users realize that much of the free content they experience and love online is only made possible with the use of banner ads, and total ad-blocking could mean the end of the free internet.
Questions unanswered and work to do
There are some questions that remain unanswered. Who had bought Adblock? What are their intentions for the future of the tool? Will users trust Adblock if the new owner remains anonymous? Finally, how will online advertisers react to Adblock joining the Acceptable Ads program?
One thing remains certain, for online advertisers to be able to join the Acceptable Ads program advertising standards need to continue rising, and ads need to become more targeted and relevant.