The adblock wars are escalating, with head of the IAB launching a vitriolic attack on the companies behind the filtering software.
President and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Randall Rothenburg used the opening keynote speech at the IAB summit to accuse Adblock Plus of being an “unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes” and an “old-fashioned extortion racket.”
His first target was Adblock Plus, owned by Germany-based Eyeo, which made a fuss last week when employees complained about being disinvited from the conference. They weren’t invited in the first place, Rothenberg told attendees in his opening speech.
Adblock Plus attended the event last year and it was registered for this year’s event, but its registration was cancelled by organisers.
“We had never invited them in the first place,” Rothenburg said on Monday. “They registered for this event online. When we found out, we cancelled the registration and reversed their credit card billing. Why? For the simple reason that they are stealing from publishers, subverting freedom of the press, operating a business model predicated on censorship of content, and ultimately forcing consumers to pay more money for less – and less diverse – information.”
He called out ad-blocking companies for their for-profit models and for setting up shop as gatekeepers.
In doing so, he said, they create business models “predicated on censorship of content.” These companies operate “an old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in the flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism.”
Rothenberg moved onto what’s actually causing ad blocking. Slow-loading pages and fear of malware inspire many to install ad blockers, so the IAB wants to help create industry standards and ways to measure user experience.
Hitting straight back, on the same day as Rothenburg’s speech, Shine CMO Roi Carthy called the IAB irrelevant to customers in a piece for Ad Age titled, “Consumers Must Look Elsewhere Than the IAB for Protection.”
Rothenberg finished his speech by applauding publishers who have taken steps to message ad-blocking users, informing them that they need to unblock or pay for content, for example.
“A combination of LEAN advertising and media, and publisher implementation of detection-notice-choice-and-constraint, will limit the impact of ad-blocking,” Rothenberg said.