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A look at how AdBlock Plus’ independent Acceptable Ads Committee will operate


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

April 18, 2016 | 5 min read

Eyeo, the company behind AdBlock Plus, is currently in consultation with multiple stakeholders in the online advertising business over the formation of an independent committee that will take the reins of its controversial Acceptable Ads whitelist later this year. Ben Williams, Eyeo’s Ben Williams, global operations director, gave The Drum insight into how it’s poised to operate, as well as how it plans to help publishers monetise.

AdBlock Plus creator Eyeo is seeking to cement its place, and some would say legitimacy in the online advertising sector, and has been canvassing opinion from multiple players in the online advertising space (including advertisers, publisher trade bodies, privacy) via way of its 'Camp David talks' in both North America and Europe.

Since then, Eyeo has drafted a consultation document, proposing an independent committee that will govern its Acceptable Ads policy (a whitelist that has proven controversial as companies that gain access to it are then asked to make a contribution to Eyeo’s coffers).

Checks and balances

Speaking on a panel on the opening day of Ad Week Europe Williams confirmed that Eyeo will hand over control of its acceptable ads policy to “an independent committee” formed of various industry stakeholders (including consumer privacy groups) by the end of the year.

Feedback will be taken from said stakeholders and then plans for the independent committee will be finalised, according to Williams. The purpose of such a move will be to ensure greater transparency and provide that “checks and balances” are in place in the administration of said whitelist, he told The Drum.

In addition to the proposed “by laws” that the committee is poised to operate within (such as how often the body will meet, and what advertising, and tracking methods are deemed acceptable) the documents also contain the intended structure of the committee.

A tripartite structure

The structure, which is due to have a 12-strong headcount, will consistent of three distinct groups, each with voting powers, and below is a rough breakdown of how this committee will be formed.

The advertiser group

  • This group will consist of those involved in the advertising profession including media owners, advertising agencies, as well as those representing brand-side marketers.

The ‘non-profit’ group

  • This group will consist of those representing consumer interests, such as consumer advocacy and privacy groups.

Other interested parties

  • In the spirit of ‘checks and balances’, this group will consist of members that have an informed opinion on the debate (academics, etc.) as well as “content creators”, according to Williams. In effect, this group will act as a moderating influence on either side, a scrutinising function similar to The U.S. Supreme Court, or House of Lords in the UK.

Details still to be finalised

As mentioned, details have yet to be finalised, such as the voting structure between the three groups, how often the group will meet, plus funding of said group is likely to be a key issue to agree upon. However, Williams was able to confirm the group will also have a non-voting chairperson who will facilitate the group’s operating procedures.

As mentioned above, Eyeo is eager to cement its role as a positive force (even though it is a for-profit company) in the online advertising space, and to prove its intentions to detractors — answering allegations that its acceptable ads policy was no more than a protection racket, which he denied.

AdBlock Plus’ upcoming publisher monetisation tool won’t involve micropayments

Discussing the recent revelations that Eyeo intended to launch a monetisation tool that will reward “good ad content”, Williams was quick to dispel speculation that this will involve a micropayments model.

“Micropayments have all been terribly utilised, and none of them make sense,” he said, adding that it was an option they had explored.

However, he was pensive about revealing any more details, other than that they will be revealed before the end of the year.

Ben Williams was speaking with The Drum at Ad Week Europe, click here to find out more of the issues debated at the event.

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