Ad blocking is becoming a business. While there are still many extensions out there that are not monetized at all or only slightly, for instance by accepting donations, it is clear that there is a drive towards making adblocking profitable for companies involved.
The two major monetization options up until now were donations and direct payments for a software license. Adblock Plus introduced its Acceptable Ads program to the list which lets some ads through on select sites or by select companies and by default if those ads meet certain standards.
The company has been criticized for it as it is accepting payments from companies to be included on the acceptable ads program.
The idea behind it makes sense to a degree, as many adblocking users use them primarily to block intrusive ads on the Internet and not necessarily to block all ads as they would "punish" websites they visit regularly doing so (Adblocking is a huge issue on Ghacks for instance).
The implementation itself is problematic considering that websites have to apply to the program to get ads on their sites whitelisted.
Adblock, one of the most popular ad blocking extensions for the Chrome web browser with more than 40 million users just announced to its user base that it has been sold and that it has joined Adblock Plus' acceptable ads program
Why now? Well, I have always shared similar goals for the Web with the ad blocker Adblock Plus, who created the Acceptable Ads program. But I did not like the fact that they also control the program, because they are supported by some Acceptable Ads advertisers. Now, Adblock Plus will be transferring custodianship of Acceptable Ads to an impartial group of experts. I love this idea -- in fact, it was my wife Katie’s suggestion! Due to this change, I'm happy for AdBlock to join the program. As a result, I am selling my company, and the buyer is turning on Acceptable Ads.
The announcement does not reveal who bought the extension and whether part of the deal was to implement and enable the acceptable ads feature in AdBlock.
If the new owner sees it as an investment, and the chance is quite good that this is the case, money needs to be made to make the investment profitable. While it is unclear if ad blockers get compensated for joining the Acceptable Ads program, it is likely that this is the case to increase the incentive to do just that and establish it as an industry standard.
Adblock is not the first browser extension that has been bought by another company. In the past, this often went along with the introduction of privacy-invasive features or ad injection on websites. It is too early to come to any conclusion as to what the change in ownership means for the extension's future, but users of it should pay close attention to future updates just to be on the safe side of things in this regard.