The makers of Adblock Plus want to make the process of deciding which ads are “acceptable” and can bypass its filters more transparent. The company plans to create an independent board to set the acceptability criteria by early next year.
German company Eyeo has run into criticism over the way it monetizes development of the open-source Adblock Plus: It doesn’t block all ads by default, but allows some unintrusive, mostly text-based ads through its filters. About 70 of the largest publishers whose ads are allowed through in this way pay a fee. Users can still choose to block their ads.
After discussion with users, Eyeo published the criteria for what makes ads acceptable, and when companies apply to be added to the whitelist, the merits of their cases are discussed in a public forum.
By handing over decision-making to an independent board, both about the criteria for acceptability and about who meets those criteria, the company hopes to allay suspicion.
“A big reason is transparency, it puts it out in the open and it gets more stakeholders involved,” said Ben Williams, Eyeo’s communications manager.
The board members will include representatives of users, publishers and advertisers, and they are likely to receive a small stipend to cover travel expenses, he said. They will be responsible for updating the acceptability criteria, and for enforcing them.
“Some of the details aren’t ironed out yet,” Williams said.
The forum, where companies fates are decided today, will still play a role. “Enforcement will still be up to the users as much as it is now,” he said. “If you don’t feel you are represented by the user representatives on the board, you will still be able to take part in the process.”
The rise of adblockers—Eyeo claims it has 60 million weekly users—has worried some onine publishers reliant on advertising revenue, although others are finding ways to adapt, providing better access to their websites to visitors who agree to view ads. Apple’s release of iOS 9 last week changes the game yet again, as Apple now allows developers to create content filters that modify websites viewed in the platform’s default browser, Safari. Previously, iPhone owners had to run an alternate browser that could block ads.
Eyeo’s content filter only arrived in the iTunes App Store Wednesday, a week after competitors. But Williams hopes Adblock Plus for Safari on iOS, as the app is called, will soon catch up. “Ours is free. Most of the others are paid,” he said.