Adblock Plus To Allow Acceptable Ads

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 12, 2011
Updated • Nov 20, 2012
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

A new version of the popular adblocking extension Adblock Plus will be released tomorrow for the Firefox web browser. Adblock Plus 2.0 is not only a huge jump in version from version 1.3.10 that is currently offered on Mozilla's add-on repository, but offers also a fundamental change in program functionality.

Back in October we ran a story about the founding of Eyos GMBH, the new parent company for Adblock Plus that was founded by Wladimir Palant and Till Faida. And with the company came the idea to change the behavior of Adblock Plus. The managing directors back then mentioned that they had plans to fix the web for both web publishers and users.

Their decision to allow unobtrusive ads to pass through the filter was backed by a user study were 75% of all users stated that they were using an adblocker primarily to block annoying ads on the web, and that they would not mind if unobtrusive ads were displayed to them on websites.

Adblock Plus 2.0 for Firefox will introduce the concept of acceptable ads to all Firefox users who upgrade to or install the new version of the add-on. Users will see a notification once they install or update to the new version.

non intrusive advertising

The notification states that Adblock Plus has been configured to allow non-intrusive advertising. Links lead to a help page with additional information about the new feature and the configuration were the feature can be turned off. The page explains the reason for the move (supporting websites that rely on advertising, forcing websites who use annoying ads to think about it), that users can disable the acceptable ads feature if they so desire, and what the developers consider acceptable ads.

According to their information, acceptable ads are static advertisements (no animations or sounds), preferably text only and use at most one script to avoid delays in page loading times.

A list of acceptable ad providers and websites is available here. The only big name in the list is Google, the remaining filters refer to ads on specific sites (mostly German based). The page states that Adblock Plus has agreements with "some websites and advertisers". It is not clear how those agreements look like.

Adblock Plus users can disable the feature in the add-on's Filter options.

allow non intrusive advertising

I have to admit that I like the move as a webmaster. Why? Because I earn my living from this website with ads on the site. If everyone would block the ads on this site, I would be working in a 9 to 5 job with little or maybe no time to update and maintain this website.

Users still have the option to turn off the the exception list if the want to continue blocking all ads on the Internet.
The new version for Firefox is said to be released tomorrow. The Chrome version will receive an update in the coming months.

What's your take on the move? Let me know in the comments.


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  1. GhacksReader said on July 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    And that’s why smart people use a blocking hosts file to block out that stuff…

  2. smaragdus said on December 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm


    Yes, there is a way to do that. Below is the Adblock Plus page at Adblock Plus at Mozilla FTP.

    You can download any version of Adblock Plus you’d like either via FTP client or using your browser.

  3. jay said on December 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I just upgraded and want to get the older version. Is there any way I can still do that?

  4. Todd said on December 16, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Thanks for the warning! I won’t be upgrading to the newest version of Adblock.

  5. Wally said on December 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I think this is a good idea. There are a handful of sites (like this one) where I disable ABP so that ads will be served.

  6. Yoshiyah said on December 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Geesh! This won’t affect me in the least bit as I use a modified host file to block ads, including unobtrusive ads.

  7. Genious said on December 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I think it should not feature unobtrusive ads by default, it should do what it’s namesake is inclined to do, block ads. I understand the purpose of ads, impressions click-through, ect ect but the problem is many of the high traveled websites out there in the past have redesigned their websites to add more ad space and less content.

    I’m still amazed at the difference between viewing many of my favorite websites from my computer and then a friend showing me something on theirs without adblock.

  8. kalmly said on December 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Comment 1: Adblock Plus will no longer block ads. Hmmmm. Methinks it should be renamed.

    Comment 2: I think dedup’s comment is right on.

    Comment 3: I don’t really mind ads. I understand why websites need them and as long as I don’t have to shovel too deeply through a pile of blinding garbage, I’m OK with them. But something jumping around, flashing, and screaming is hugely annoying and distracting. I’d love an app that would turn my cursor into a handgun pointer. One click and the jolly jumper dies! Anybody know of one?

  9. KRS said on December 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Martin –

    Do your advertisers pay you when I visit your site, or only when I click on one of their ads. That is, do they know that I’m running Adblock Plus and hold back payment when I visit your site?

    I’ve tried turning off the blocker, and at least on your site I don’t mind the unobtrusive ads running down the right side of the screen. However, I almost never click on one of them.

    I run Adblock Plus because few site owners are as ethical as you are. For me, any ad that moves or blinks is distracting, and I block them if I can. I’ll unblock your site when the new version of Adblock Plus comes out as long as there are no blinks.

    1. firefoxlover said on December 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      AdBLOCKPlus should be what the name implies. Time for a name change to AdBlockMinus? lol

      I know of people who clicked on ads and got infected on reputable, trusted web sites. These web site owners were not to blame though as no-one knows what’s lurking behind some of these ads.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on December 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      That depends on the type of ads displayed. Some pay per impression (that is when they are displayed to the user), some on click. The impression based ads will always pay even if you do not interact with them.

  10. frabat said on December 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Remember noscript vs adblock plus battle ?

  11. dedup said on December 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    i think they do that mainly to be accepted by google on their adware chrome

  12. Dan said on December 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

    How many of your visitors use adblock extensions on your site (there are scripts that can detect them)? I’ve seen statistics that it’s usually 2% for general use sites, though tech sites might be a tad higher because users are typically more computer savvy. But in general, if a mere 2% are using it in the first place, then I don’t see the need for this. No pro-blogger is starving because he isn’t monetizing the 2%. He is better off making sure that his ads are relevant to his readership to make them more likely to click the ads.

    Don’t worry, I still make an exception for your site. :p

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Dan I have long stopped worrying. Depending on the country, site and audience, I have seen figures going up high as more than 10%. This may be the exception but even 5% would make a big difference.

  13. Mehdi S said on December 13, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Yeah text only non-obstrusive ads is fine as long as the server from which it is fetching those ads is slow and hence slowing the loading of the website I’m visiting.

  14. smaragdus said on December 13, 2011 at 6:43 am

    This is a disappointing news. I avoid any kind of adds like a plague therefore for me there are no acceptable adds. I won’t update (anyway, I have disabled auto-update of add-ons and not only of add-ons) and if older versions of AdBlock Plus will become incompatible with never releases of SeaMonkey/Firefox I will switch to proxies like AdFender and Privoxy. It seems that the developer of AdBlock Plus has decided to get some revenues.

  15. GiddyUpGo said on December 13, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I have used AdBlock Plus for ever. I only allow it to block popup, flash adds and the ones that take over my page. This change will not bother me, and if these type of adds show up, I will block them. I actually enjoy good adds!

  16. Dougle said on December 13, 2011 at 3:01 am

    I have been using the development version of ABP for a long time and this feature has been incorporated for a while now. I have to say I haven’t noticed any difference with this feature turned on, which is the default.

    Personally, I don’t have any issues with this as long as it’s not abused. Besides, it’s easy enough to disable.

  17. Sid said on December 12, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I actually support it too. I hate the advertisements like ones offered in Yahoo! Mail [atleast in my country] – that is “in your face advertising”.
    Google Mail’s ads, for example are a perfect example of how ads MUST be. Absolutely unobstrusive!

  18. Nicolai said on December 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    I think it’s ‘fair’ that ABP starts “unblocking” ads (I personally use the “don’t block ads on this site”-function a lot), but I don’t really like these “secrets agreements”, and why only unblock ads on specific sites? IMO this sounds like a bad move (disguise as something good/fair).

  19. Rodalpho said on December 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Such a fantastic idea. I’ll definitely leave that acceptable ads checked.

  20. Bad_Attitude said on December 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I would much more prefer that this was an opt-in preference.

    1. Rodalpho said on December 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm

      The whole point is that it’s the default preference. Most people will be happy to get rid of intrusive ads that slow down their browser and distract from content (and can often include trojans) and don’t mind those that they term acceptable.

      If you’re the kind of person to click around in a browser addon
      preferences, (and most of us on this site probably are) you can
      block all ads, if you wish. But really, why would you?

      And those people who aren’t going to their addons’ preference
      panels will be well-served by the default.

  21. Paulus said on December 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Really I do not know yet this because first off all I want to experience how intrusive the new adblock plus will be because of there new policy.

    What would be highly appreciated by me (and maybe more people) that you would explain to use how we can handle the addblock add-on’s Filter options. With that said I mean how to put adds of and how to put them back on again. This in case when a page is not working properly anymore after that we put some adds of, and after that the page change.

  22. KoalaBear said on December 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Good move.

    I think the ad publishers went too far in the irritating flash ads, which I think are declining because general Flash usage is also declining. Google always had the best clean ads, and maybe still has, and relevant if possible.

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