The war of words between online publishers and makers of ad-blocking software has heated up in recent years. Now, a maker of popular ad-blocking software has a new project it says will help online publishers get paid.
Adblock Plus has joined up with Flattr to create "Flattr Plus," a system for Web users who want to pay online content creators. Flattr Plus users will set their own monthly budget that will pay favorite bloggers, musicians, artists, or newspapers. The payments will be apportioned automatically, based on a user's engagement with various websites.
Flattr was co-founded by a man who already knows a thing or two about running controversial Web services: Peter Sunde, who also created and operated The Pirate Bay.
"Our goal with Flattr Plus is to finally evolve the Web into what it was supposed to have been to begin with: a place for creators to meet their audience, and a mechanism for audiences to directly and sustainably support creators,” said Sunde in a press release.
Ben Williams, head of operations for Adblock Plus parent company Eyeo, told The Wall Street Journal that his company has been working with Flattr for "a couple of years" on the project. Eyeo has purchased a minority stake in Flattr.Flattr and Adblock Plus will make money from the project by keeping a 10 percent cut of the money spent by Flattr Plus users. The product is still in beta testing and will be launched later this year, Williams told TechCrunch.
Adblock Plus and its competitors fill a controversial niche on the Web. Ad-blocking software cuts off revenue for ad-supported publishers as the service's popularity has grown in recent years. Adblock Plus alone claims the software has been downloaded more than 500 million times. Some news sites, such as Forbes, have started preventing readers from loading its website if they have ad-blocking software installed. Others, like The Guardian, put up special messages for ad-blocking users asking them to support the site in another way.
Eyeo also rules on what are "acceptable ads," allowing them through its filters if it deems them to be not disruptive or intrusive. The company then takes payment from larger companies in the "acceptable ads" program, a practice which publishers and advertisers have complained about.
Williams told TechCrunch that users who opt out of all advertising—even the simple text ads allowed by ABP's "acceptable ads" program—have been "the most vocal in asking for solutions like this."