The maker of Adblock Plus, a popular Firefox extension that allows users to block online ads, on Monday proposed a change in the software that would allow publishers, with the consent of Adblock Plus users, to prevent their ads from being blocked.
Wladimir Palant says in a blog post that his goal with Adblock Plus isn't to destroy the advertising industry. Indeed, he acknowledges that the Internet depends on ad revenue. "The only problem is that ads are becoming increasingly intrusive and annoying as Webmasters try to maximize their profits, which is the main reason people install Adblock Plus," he explained.
His proposal won't subjugate user choice to publisher desire. Rather, it aims to provide a mechanism for publishers to request that users make an active decision about ad blocking, instead of blocking everything by default.
Adblock Plus was designed to allow users to choose which ads they want to see. However, Palant acknowledges that many users do not take an active role in choosing. Instead, they subscribe to filter lists that block pretty much everything. Palant's proposal would encourage users to be more deliberate in their choice to block ads and would provide publishers with a way to express their wishes.
Palant's proposed change would mean that Adblock Plus would recognize HTML code expressing the site owner's desire that users not block ads on the site. When the ad-blocking extension encounters that code in a Web page, it would present the user with an in-line dialog box explaining the publisher's stance and three options: allowing the page to load with ads, blocking the ads, or deferring a decision until later, which would probably also result in blocking any ads.
In a comment on Palant's proposal, Russ Jones, CTO of search marketing firm Virante and the primary author behind The Google Cache, a blog full of condemnations of ad blocking, praises the plan as "very reasonable and incredibly well thought [out]."
Blocking ads remains an area of impassioned opinions online. Many publishers and marketers accuse those using ad-blocking software of being unethical for consuming content while denying the presenter of that content with a chance to earn revenue. They liken it to piracy or stealing.