Interactive Advertising Bureau Bars Adblock Plus From Conference, When It Should Be Listening To Them

from the lalala-we-can't-hear-you dept

Ad blocking and the software that powers it seems to be in the news lately, and for all the wrong reasons. Recently, several prominent sites have attacked ad blockers in several different ways, ranging from lawsuits on the extreme end down to simply withholding content. These attempts are all misguided in the same way, however, in that they attack the software that readers find useful rather than attacking the core problem that makes users turn to ad blockers in the first place: incredibly crappy and occasionally downright dangerous advertising inventory.

One would think that websites and online advertisers would have much to learn from the providers of ad blockers. It seems there is little appetite for education amongst them, however, as we’ve recently learned that the Interactive Advertising Bureau has flat out barred Adblock Plus from its annual conference.

According to a post on the Adblock Plus blog, the company had bought a ticket for the IAB conference, which takes place in Palm Desert, California at the end of January. The ticket was not cheap: they start at about £1,750 for members, scaling up to £2,600 for non-members. Then, last week, Adblock Plus received an e-mail from the IAB stating: “We are returning your registration fee and cancelling your registration for the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting.” That was the entire content of the communication; according to Adblock Plus, there was no reason given for the cancellation.

Adblock Plus employee Mark Addison e-mailed the IAB and asked if “there must be some confusion” as he hadn’t asked for a cancellation or refund. All he got was another inscrutable email from the IAB, confirming that his ticket had indeed been cancelled, but offering up no reason for the cancellation.

The reason for the summary refusal to allow Adblock Plus into the conference isn’t difficult to surmise, of course. Online advertisers must certainly cast an unfriendly eye towards ad blockers, seeing them as the enemy. And, in online advertising’s current iteration, they are. But, as we’ve stated before, that’s because online advertising first made itself an enemy of the public by being annoying, useless, and even a vector for malware. Refusing to let Adblock Plus into the conference equates to online advertisers sticking their fingers in their ears, refusing to listen to what should be a very important voice in the industry.

Adding to how silly this is is the fact that ad blocking is regularly discussed at the conference.

The IAB has previously acknowledged that adblocking is a huge problem for the industry, and the topic of adblocking was discussed at length at last year’s annual conference. If a solution is to be found, it will almost certainly require a dialogue between the advertisers and the advertising blockers.

Imagine if, instead of turning a deaf ear towards ad blockers, the IAB instead encouraged a dialogue to find out how to make their advertising more desirable to those using the software. Adblock Plus must have a ton of data that’s useful to advertisers, but they won’t get it by keeping their little club exclusive.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: adblock plus, iab

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Interactive Advertising Bureau Bars Adblock Plus From Conference, When It Should Be Listening To Them”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
any moose cow word says:

Re: Re: Head in the sand

In my opinion, the problem is the sites willing to host the ads in the first place. They take whatever pays the best, without asking any questions about how the advertiser is getting paid. The ads guys either cut corners on security, leaving themselves open to hackers to insert malware for profit, or profit off the malware themselves. Either way, the blame is really on the site for being careless with their site and user’s security.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sign of their demise

If they refused to even admit that they are the problem that adblockers are trying to solve, they are literally just shooting themselves in the foot. I am 100% certain that most of the people going to that conference either use adblockers themselves when browsing at home, or have machines that are full of malware and spyware. People do not want audio and video playing by deafult when they go to a page. If that site has pop ups, pop unders or tries to download updates or changes to my browser, I use a blocker or don’t use that site. For the sites that make the choice for me by not showing content when ad-blockers are enabled, enjoy your downfall. Take responsibility for your ad content by ensuring it is not a vector for tracking, malware or spyware or find yourself on the buggy whip side of history.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sign of their demise

Sadly, they’re not, at least on this point. They’re just providing a definition that is in common usage. Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.

This “literally” usage is a battle lost years ago, and using it to mean “figuratively” is very much common practice. I’ll still complain about it, though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interactive Advertising did the right thing in blocking them from the conference. When Adblock was purchased by an undisclosed buyer, I noticed that 99% of the ads and pop-up ads were not being blocked and then I discovered that Adblock was allowing advertisers to pay Adblock to be put on a “whitelist” for advertisers.

This is when I sitched to Adguard, which does everything that Adblock was supposed to do. Adblock has become nothing more than scamware and that it has ceased being an adblocker. Adblock created this problem simply by allowing advertisers to pay Adblock in order to allow their ads to display through various web browsers.

There is literally legions of web browser users who have dumped adblock because of this.

Good riddance to the piece of trash that is adblock.

any moose cow word says:

Re: Re:

99%? That’s BS. I use adblock and they still block over 99% of ads. I’d occasionally turned it off until I figured out how to manage it myself. The number of ads I’d seen with it turned off, even sites I regularly visited, were unbelievable. They were all gone when I turned it back on. If your 99% claim was even remotely close to reality, the difference would have been imperceivable.

They’re not perfect and some still slip through. Only a tiny fraction of the one’s I see are on the paid whitelist. Yes, I actually check.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Adguard

Adblock and adblock plus are both browser plugins.

I just checked out Adguard.


Run away from it as fast as you can. It runs a process that intercepts all your browsing and loads a fake root cert to do a man-in-middle attack on all your SSL traffic.

Installing this, you have just opened yourself up to all kinds of attacks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Advertisers are the enemies of the Internet

The sooner everyone realizes this, and the sooner we exterminate online advertising, the better. The ‘net was a perfectly fine place before we allowed these parasites to infest it, and it’ll be a fine place again once they’re gone.

“All children should be aptitude-tested at an early age and, if their main or only aptitude is for marketing, drowned.” — David Canzi,, 2001-03-21

any moose cow word says:

Truth in advertising

Advertising only makes sense when you understand how it works–end users aren’t the customer, they’re the product. Print, radio, TV…that’s how it’s always been. The majority of commercial media primarily serves the ones who pay them, the advertisers–who in turn only serve the ones who pay them, the clients. From their point of view, end users are merely eye balls to be sold on a platter.

It could be argued that things would be better for everyone if they dropped this adversarial view. Yet, they still believe the way things are is the most profitable. Not because it actually is, it’s merely how they profited in the past. They not only fail to see a reason to change, but will fight to maintain the status quo.

Sound familiar?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Truth in advertising

From their point of view, end users are merely eye balls to be sold on a platter.

It could be argued that things would be better for everyone if they dropped this adversarial view.

That’s not adversarial. It’s predatory. It’s thinking of us as meat wandering in a herd and the highest we could aspire to is to provide a meal for one of the hungry lions circling about.

I propose whenever any of us sees a lion out there, stampede over their asses and grind them to dust!

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve said it before, pop-up blockers were the original ad blockers. The advertising industry failed to learn their lesson then, and pop-up blocking became integrated into browsers. We are now poised for a repeat while general content blocking, and they desperately refuse to learn the less still.

Though the dumbest thing about this is that Adblock Plus is one of the few companies able to give real insight into what ads people don’t block.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t use an ad-blocker, yet. I disable flash and java script, and in fact don’t use flash at all. What with the IN-YOUR-FACE-ADS and the malvertising these idiots really need to get their act together, or I will be disabling images and using a black list as well. While their ads help the web page developer I am the one paying for the connection and the bandwidth, and dealing with their malware and other deceptive practices.

DB (profile) says:

Imagine a radio station that constantly broadcast commercial messages on the left audio channel of their news and music programming. The average listener would tune to a different station, or at least immediately adjust the balance control.

Imagine if occasionally a TV channel occasionally broadcast an advertisement that blew out the speakers, or left a burnt spot on the screen.

Not only would people never knowingly watch that channel, there would likely be a class-action lawsuit over the damage caused.

Yet websites expect to be insulated from the negative effects of their ads. And advertising brokers expect to be held blameless for any damage done.

New Mexico Mark says:

Entrenched warfare is ugly

Advertiser perspective: We need a(nother) way to get our ads in front of as many eyes/ears as possible. That is how we make money. There is no Dana, there is only Zuul.

Web site owner perspective: I’m putting a ton of resources into this site. From the hit count, it is obviously useful. It’s only fair that I recoup my investment and maybe make some profit. Ads provide a way to do that. Unfortunately, selling ad space means I cede control of that part of my site.

User perspective: Many/most ads are extremely annoying, cost me time, cost me privacy, and cost me security. That’t too high a price. I’ll either block ads or curtail which sites I visit.

The more each of these positions becomes entrenched, the uglier this will get. However, as with most situations like this, the masses will have the final say, and once a tipping point is reached, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to stop. I’m convinced this has already happened in the broadcast/cable vs. any-other-reasonable-medium. It is starting to happen with Internet advertising. This decision by IAB is just more evidence that greed and short-sighted thinking win out over reasoned responses far too often. Maybe their swan song will be “Rollin in the Deep”.

Unfortunately, we’re probably going to lose a lot of great web sites caught in the crossfire. Hopefully many of them will find other ways to monetize their sites without abusing their fans.

Nomad of Norad says:

I'm wondering....

We have widespread issues where a given website is a source or a vector for malware infections, due to sloppy or poor security on the part of the particular website, and also widespread issues of lax security allowing someone to hack their system to steal user information (i.e. if all the passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers are stored in the clear instead of heavily encrypted), and they’re not being penalized for it.

I’m wondering what the reaction would be if there were laws in place that said any such company — either as a verified source for malware infections, OR if the company’s user-account security got too readily cracked, or both — had to pay substantial FINES for this, every single time it happened, perhaps even with some of those responsible being hauled off to jail… how long would it take before they cleaned up their collective acts, eliminated ALL possibility of malware vectors via ads, and also made DAMN sure their internal security was impregnable. I’m guessing it’d happen very, very fast.

Rex Karz (profile) says:

Re: I'm wondering....

Or laws like the Entertainment industries bought from congress: mandatory, extortionately high payments to the affected persons for their trouble dealing with malware spreading advertizing.
— Think of it: a website gives you some malware that changes your DNS setting nets you $250,000(U$D) and all you have to do is file a claim with the FTC and it is done. Net effect you’ll never see a malware spreading ad again. Ever.

Mr Big Content says:

If Banning Ad-Blockers is Wrong, I Dont Wanna Be Right

If being profitable mean’s blocking you
id rather live and Adblock-blocking life
You mama and daddy say its a shame
its a downright disgrace
long as i got ads on my site
i dont care what you people say.

Your friends tell you theres no future in browsing and ad-free web.
If i cant show ads when i want to, ill show them when i can.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

hosts file

I used to simply turn graphics off to reduce the bloated payload of most websites. Then I noticed how many http requests were generated even without the graphic overhead. There were hundreds of http requests per page! That is a lot of round trips. I happen to have Fiddler running and noticed that even after my page loaded, it was constantly making posts. Several analytical servers were being posted to, ad sites, Facebook and every social media site you can think of.

So I copied every url from my Fiddler session and pasted the URIs into my hosts file with and then I noticed my http traffic went way down. Pages loaded very fast. In short, web sites loaded the way they used to: in one to two seconds.

I wouldn’t mind ads so much, but after you add up the bloated payload: all the social media feeds, all the round trips going on plus the auto play videos, pop ups, and the poisoned ads, you have to do something. 

Anonymous Coward says:

However, the next level of ad blocking, which I find most anti-adblock scripts do not yet detect, is router level blocking, by either a router blacklist, or through DNS poisoning.

I have tested this and found that while websites that block ad blockers will be detedted, blocking either through blocking on the router, or through DNS poisoning, will not be detected.

That is because when a URL is blocked, you will get a message saying the site is blocked, and the anti-adblock script will see that something has loaded, but will not detect WHAT has been loaded.

I see a big business opportunity here, blocking ads, and other bad stuff, that much of the current generation of anti-adblock scripts will not detect.

The only two sites I have found, so far, that detect router level or DNS level ad blocking are Forbes and Hulu.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...