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AdBlock Plus hopes to help publishers monetise through tie-up with online payments service Flattr


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

May 3, 2016 | 4 min read

Eyeo, the company behind AdBlock Plus, has lifted the lid on its plans to help publishers monetise their content, plus reduce their reliance on ad revenue, through a tie-up with content funding tool Flattr. Eyeo has suggested the partnership will raise as much as $500m for the beleaguered publishing sector next year.

The tie-up between Eyeo and Flattr, a content-funding tool that has already paid 30,000 creators since 2010, will see the launch of Flattr Plus – a web browser extension that will let AdBlock Plus users fund the content they consume without exposure to ads or resorting to paywalls.

Users sign up for Flattr Plus (which is currently in beta) and then set their own monthly budget – for instance $5 per month - which they can use to ‘flattr’ the web content they consume. The algorithms used by the web extension then determine how to divide the funds between publishers.

Ben Williams, chief operations officer at Eyeo, told The Drum that it hopes to raise $500m for publishers following the full rollout of Flattr Plus next year (this is based on a projection of 10 million of its 80 million users agreeing a budget of $5 per month).

The current beta phase of the launch was being used to “perfect the algorithm”, with Williams later going on to clarify that Eyeo would also be able to tell publishers which have yet to sign up to Flattr Plus how much they would have gained in revenue should they have been participating in the scheme.

Williams also went on to say: “We’re making it easy for people to automatically fund the content they love… We thought of a micropayments system, but we found that too cumbersome a user experience.”

Flattr Plus is based on the Flattr project, founded by Peter Sunde and Linus Olsson in 2010 to let people fund content by through an online payments system, and originally hit the headlines after it allowed WikiLeaks readers make donations after mainstream outfits such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal cut off WikiLeaks’ access to such payments.

Eyeo went on to claim that payments were intended to be incorporated into the original fabric of the web (dating back to its pioneering days of Sir Tim Berners Lee) in order to provide a way for online audiences rewards original content, but the capability was not technologically feasible during that period.

“Our goal with Flattr Plus is to finally evolve the Web into what it was supposed to have been to begin with; a place for creators to meet their audience, and a mechanism for audiences to directly and sustainably support creators,” said Peter Sunde, co-founder of Flattr and also of Pirate Bay.

Linus Olsson, co-founder of Flattr and lead developer of Flattr Plus, added: “The idea of great content has gotten lost in clickbait headlines and slideshow articles. All with the goal of generating advertising revenues. If we want to reverse that trend, we need a funding model that is based on engagement and attention rather than mere visits.”

Meanwhile, Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus, commented: “The current model of showing obnoxious ads to users and violating their privacy in return for content has failed: users are increasingly frustrated with the advertising experience on the Web and at the same time aggressive ads provide less and less value to publishers.”

The announcement of the beta trial comes the same period as AdBlock Plus attempts to complete the process of setting up its Acceptable Ads Committee as an independent entity, a process it hopes to complete by the end of the year.

The Drum attempted to contact sources within the publishing sector for their reaction to the proposal, but none were able to respond by time of publication.

More to follow.

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