Adblock Plus will no longer block advertising on community news site Reddit by default, the Germany-based Adblock developer team announced today.
Adblock Plus is an open-source browser add-on that allows you to prevent advertising from reaching website you visit. It’s a tool that’s proved extremely popular for people who are sick of web publishers taking advantage of viewers by placing lots of intrusive/irrelevant ads as well as tracking their data across multiple sites.
However, last year the Adblock development team decided to implement a “whitelist” of sites that advertised to their users responsibly, and it created a criteria for responsible ad practices. Any site on the whitelist — including Reddit — will display their ads even if you have the Adblock Plus add-on turned on.
The news is significant for Reddit because it has the potential to make the now-independent company’s advertising more powerful, and this may even lead to higher ad revenue in the future. Reddit is one of the few sites that doesn’t inundate its users with excessive ads. The site runs a single tracker (for Google Analytics), and it even uses its prime advertising spots to thank users for “not using Adblock Plus.”
“The ad industry mostly puts their head in the sand about ad blocking,” Reddit General Manager Erik Martin told VentureBeat. He said that the process of getting included on Adblock’s whitelist wasn’t very difficult, given the site’s strategy for advertising.
“Adblock reached out to tell us we were being considered [for the whitelist] and spelled out their guidelines for their acceptable ads program,” Martin said. “Our ads policy already matched their guidelines, so was pretty straightforward.”
Reasonably speaking, it’s unlikely that Reddit will see a huge influx of people seeing ads, because any user savvy enough to install and run Adblock Plus is probably savvy enough to manually block those ads from the whitelist. Also, I believe additions to the Adblock whitelist only go into effect for people who install the Adblock Plus addon going forward — meaning anyone who previously installed it won’t be affected.
Still, Reddit has certainly given those users plenty of incentive to allow ads.
“I think our ads do have more clout,” Martin said, adding that all of the site’s advertising is direct and not through a third-party ad network. “Many users whitelist us already… and Gold members can opt to turn ads off, but most don’t.”
Back in 2010, I remember former Reddit employees Chris Slowe and Mike Schiraldi telling me that the real problem with ads is that people don’t look, regardless of relevance. So they decided to “reward” people for not using Adblock by telling them in the ad space — sometimes with a simple message, and other times with a message wrapped around an adorable animal photo from the /r/aww subreddit. This continues to be Reddit’s strategy three years later under Martin and CEO Yishan Wong, so it’s nice to see that Adblock is taking notice.