Despite engaging in a high-profile spat with AdBlock Plus, it has come to light that German publisher Axel Springer has invested in a Berlin-based ad blocking startup.
The European digital publishing house, which owns the likes of Business Insider and eMarketer, confirmed to The Drum that it has stumped up to help fund the growth of internet security firm Zenguard.
Zenguard specialises in security software, but one of its tools ZenMate pulse equips users with a free ad blocker.
Axel Springer has been vocal in the fight against the use of ad blockers in Europe, banning the software from the website of its popular tabloid Bild in order to protect revenue. Announced toward the end of last year, the move means that visitors must turn off their ad blocker or pay a monthly subscription fee of €2.99 to browse the site with only limited ads.
Nonetheless, the publisher’s accelerator program Plug and Play has still invested in the startup, with a spokesperson saying that Zenguard’s proposal is unlike that of traditional ad blockers because it is designed to protect against only “infected ads,” and malware. It is currently still in the prototype stage according to German Website Internet World, which claims that at the moment ZenMate’s ad blocking software works like any other and consequently will block regular advertising on sites like Bild.de.
Back in June, Adblock plus suffered a partial legal defeat in Germany at the hands of Axel Springer, with an appeal court ruling that the software's provider Eyeo should not charge the publisher for putting it on a ‘white list’ that enabled ads to be shown across its portfolio.
Springer touted the ruling as a victory over what it described as an “unacceptably aggressive business practice”.