Adblock for Chrome sold, joins Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads program

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 2, 2015
Google Chrome

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 acceptable ads

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.

Adblock for Chrome sold, joins Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads program
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Adblock for Chrome sold, joins Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads program
Adblock, a popular Google Chrome ad blocker has joined Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads program and be sold on top of that.

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  1. p3t3r said on October 7, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Hi Martin,

    i just disabled my ad-blocker (uBlock Origin) to check out what kind of apps are on this site. But i alwas have NoScript running also – so i still don’t ee the ads, because the scripts from,,, and are permanetly blacklisted on every site i visit and i’d have to whitelist them temporarly. Sounds like a lil bit circumstancial but the big benefit is: Every site i visited appears as a sweet tiny round spot in this black universe you see, when you have running lightbeam (an Firefox-AddOn) in the background. I don’t have any “evil” triangles which means there are no third party sites tracking my. AND (best of all!) there are no connections between the visible sites.

    I’m happy to read about the new option to support your excellent work, Sir!

    The advertizin’ biz is a cancer growth destroying our earth by wasting ressources.


  2. disqursive said on October 4, 2015 at 6:30 am

    The article here ( ) published Adblock’s full announcement and linked to the source — a tweet ( ). It seems that current Adblock users were told of this news through unexpected browser popups.

    Adblock’s own site ( ) has no announcement about the sale anywhere — at least none I could find — and its front page uses “acceptable ad” language but does not announce it as a new practice.

    The Adblock Plus Oct. 1 blog post about setting up an independent board to manage their Acceptable Ads is below:
    ( ).

  3. disqursive said on October 4, 2015 at 1:28 am

    The article here ( ) published Adblock’s full announcement and linked to the source — a tweet ( ). It seems that current Adblock users were told of this news through unexpected browser popups.

    Adblock’s own site ( ) has no announcement about the sale anywhere — at least none I could find — and its front page uses “acceptable ad” language but does not announce it as a new practice.

    The Adblock Plus Oct. 1 blog post about setting up an independent board to manage their Acceptable Ads initiative is below:
    ( ).

  4. Jason said on October 3, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I’m all for relevant advertising. At the moment advertising on most sites is complete crap or just offensive. This page for example – I usually get advertisements telling me about young Chinese women want to “date” me.

    Until Advertising is done right, users will block ads – and advertisers will get terrible results because the placement of their ads are totally wrong.

    (Just clicked on several other ads – suspicious malware removal websites, that are blocked by Malwarebytes as Malicious websites).

  5. Maou said on October 3, 2015 at 12:54 am

    Well, I don’t have any problems with static and mute ads, but I do have a problem with scam or flash ads, normally I stop accessing websites that try to show me scam ads.

    I don’t use Chrome, but I know a few friends who use these extension by my indication.

  6. jasray said on October 2, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Off the subject, but totally important for those who have donated to Ghacks:

    Crowdfunding platform Patreon suffered a major security breach yesterday with many user details – including passwords, names and addresses – being among the data that was stolen. To make matters even worse for the site, it’s been discovered that nearly 15GBs worth of the pilfered information has been leaked online.

    Informed Martin, but he doesn’t seem to care; I mean, it occurred a long time ago.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 2, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Please, I have mentioned it already in my weekly post on Patreon which all subscribers have access to.

  7. Earl said on October 2, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    The only acceptable ad is on a page I’m not looking at.

    1. Tom Hawack said on October 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      I do make exceptions for very few ads (mainly on TV because on the Web I never see any!) when they have “somethin'”, humor, aesthetic, a short smart story … but then because I focused on the container I tend to forget the content, name of the product included! In fact the only ads which call my attention for the product are those, raw, that inform me of the product, like news, cold and dry information. All the others, those who are plain dull and/or bypass the product when trying to exercise basic, narrow, kinder-garden psychology to establish a link between my subconscious and the thrill, the satisfaction supposedly provided by the product… well, they enter my basement if not the cemetery and contribute to a general hatred towards advertisement. Pity, for them much more than for me, for the client even more : if companies knew how much money they lose (compared to a fair investment/result ratio) with advertisers they’d start a revolution :)

      Why don’t advertisers be smart, and being smart starts with being convinced the consumer is not stupid.

  8. Zeus said on October 2, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Acceptable Ads was “acceptable,” mystery owners are not.

    Back to uBlock Origins.

  9. Wee Red Bird said on October 2, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I have non-intrusive switched on.
    The reason I started blocking adverts was due to the annoying ones that would distract with lots of movement. Then ads started making noises with flash. Then they started with popups, and pop overs.
    Some pretend to be something else (such as the advert on one weather site that pretends to mobile users that it is the menu at the top of the Facebook app and that you have an unread message)
    And that was before all the nonsense about pages running slow as they harvest your data, track you across websites and sell to the highest bidder to sell the advertising space on your screen.

    The only downside is that someone has to spend money to get the well behaving adverts whitelisted.
    If someone had a crowd sourced version of the whitelist, I may start using it instead.

  10. Tim said on October 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    F***ing slap in the face to everyone. The original Adblock has finally fallen to corruption.

    I want to know who this “buyer” is, and why its “Recommended” to have ‘Acceptable Ads’ turned on by default. First impressions already not looking too good.

    @Conscience pulled the words right out of my mouth.. what a f***ing sellout dev. Thanks Katie, you were looking out for nobody but big businesses!!

    1. David said on October 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      It’s recommended to have some ads allowed so that you don’t break the internet – and so that the add-on owner can generate revenue from customers like Google. None of this is for you. You are not the customer.

      For many websites, one of their major goals is to serve you ads in order to generate revenue to keep the site going. The content of the site could be considered a method to get you to see and click on the ads. If you block ALL ads, the content authors lose out. You are in effect a parasite. If you only block annoying ads, the authors are encouraged to use non-annoying ads.

      Do you feel you’re entitled to free content, and that you should never have to pay for it. Do you even whitelist gHacks?

      1. Scott said on October 2, 2015 at 8:07 pm

        The content is not free. I pay for internet access, therefore I decide what is allowed on my network. Just because you have a business model that is easily broken is not my problem.

      2. Tom Hawack said on October 2, 2015 at 5:23 pm

        Tim, greater sympathy than I therefor when I score 0%!

        But I nevertheless consider mistaking my sympathies with an ideal reality would be dishonest. This is complexity in a non-complicated scheme. But I remain convinced that the source of the dilemma between a no-ad attitude and Web sites’ survival is that of advertisers and not of users.

        Advertisement is as old as humanity, to bring to one’s attention a product. What is not as old is the way advertisers handle it. They’ve been told and repeated to do less and better, to stop targeting and to move up to start filtering malvertisement ; nothing does it because the aim of advertisement is not to get a product sold but to sell themselves and retrieve the cash-flow : advertisement doesn’t like the consumers and barely accepts its clients as long as they pay and let the “artists” work. That is the real and only problem.

        Consequently and for now the “acceptable” ads scheme is neither dishonest nor stupid, especially that it comes with (Adblock Plus) an opt-out feature. I’m not saying I wouldn’t opt-out if I ran Adblock Plus (I’m with uBlock Origin) but the concept is interesting IMO since many users do accept ads when these avoid excess (or rather when the ad-blocker limits their expansionism.

        If tomorrow shows an ad business which would have totally changed its strategy in order to respect the client, the product and the consumer, then I’d be willing to fill the second half of the distance between them and I. Not before : consumers are not to be the hostages of a system which aims to flip the responsibilities when the culprit is that system.

      3. Tim said on October 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        I have 0.000000000000001% sympathy for ads. I never allow any ads, as I do not believe in its system. Websites that force you disable Adblock have the exact opposite effect on me; I never visit. I have been using Adblock for so long, I have almost forgotten an internet with ads. Of the 100+ apps I’ve downloaded to my phone, only 5% of them actually have ads, because I have paid so many licenses to remove them from the others.

        I don’t care if Adblock is breaking the internet. There are other funding outlets available (donations/crowdfunding/etc), but websites refuse them because ads still make them more bank. The ad machines run on pure unadulterated greed, and nothing else.

        Not only do they waste time, they cause computer systems to work harder (especially bad on hard drives), and can randomly infect your system with malware just by viewing them (see Malvertising). Some are bold enough to suggest that your computer is infected, and prey on audiences gullible enough to believe in them.

  11. Graham said on October 2, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    I use a fork of Adblock rather than the actual thing. I suggest everyone else do the same.

  12. dan said on October 2, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Thank goodness for uBlock Origin.

    1. Nebulus said on October 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Amen to that!

    2. Jeff said on October 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Aye! I switched to Ublock a while back. Much better than ABP all around, especially in Firefox where ABP had performance/memory issues.

  13. Conscience said on October 2, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Sellout. “It was my wife’s idea.” Great.

    1. dwarf_t0ss said on October 3, 2015 at 4:15 am

      Nice guy to throw his wife under the bus like that, heh.

      1. Adit said on October 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm

        Amen ….

  14. IgHive said on October 2, 2015 at 11:25 am

    One more.

    Crystal iOS Ad-Blocker Now Paid To Show Ads.

    “Crystal developer, Dean Murphy, has made an agreement with a company called Eyeo GmbH that will allow some ads to be allowed past Crystal’s ad filter.”

  15. Jenni said on October 2, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Can anyone confirm that it was in fact Adblock Plus owner Eyeo GmbH that bought the company?

  16. IgHive said on October 2, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Should have been opt-in, not opt-out.

    1. RicnInIowa said on October 2, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      It defaults to NOT being turned on

      1. Tom Hawack said on October 2, 2015 at 8:48 pm

        Adblock Plus’ acceptable ads are on by default, you have to opt-out. If you install Adblocker Plus and discover the acceptable ads are off this is because you must have had previously installed the extension, had opted-out and that the setting remained when you uninstalled Adblocker Plus.
        Anyway that’s not the main problematic, even if it has its importance.

    2. David said on October 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      That is not how you monetise a product. It has to be opt-out to work.

  17. jojo said on October 2, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Putting Mobile Ad Blockers to the Test
    OCT. 1, 2015
    Tech Fix

    To block ads or not to block ads on your mobile device? That’s the philosophical dilemma facing consumers since Apple added support for ad blockers to its iPhone operating system a couple of weeks ago.

    To help answer the question, we decided to put multiple ad blockers to the test. Over the course of four days, we used several ad-blocking apps on our iPhones and measured how much the programs cut down on web page data sizes and improved loading times, and also how much they increased the smartphone’s battery life.


  18. johnp said on October 2, 2015 at 9:31 am

    I suspect ABP’s parent company Eyeo is the buyer.

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