Adblock for Chrome signs on to Eyeo's acceptable ads whitelist

Adblock's developer has adopted Eyeo's acceptable ads whitelist and sold his browser extension to an unnamed company

AdBlock browser extension popup

AdBlock browser extension developer Michael Gundlach announced he had sold his company via a browser pop-up, seen in this screenshot taken Oct. 2, 2015 

The maker of a competing ad-blocking browser extension has joined up with the new program created by Eyeo, owner of Adblock Plus, under which an independent board will decide which ads are acceptable to be placed on a whitelist.

The AdBlock browser extension for Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari -- similarly named but independent of Eyeo's product -- claims 40 million users. Its developer  Michael Gundlach said Thursday that he had sold his company, as well.

The move came about, he said, because German developer Eyeo had decided to distance itself from management of the acceptable ads program that allowed it to make money from its own ad-blocking browser extensions.

Ad blockers intercept requests by webpages to download ads from external sites on a blacklist. Publishers hate them because they deprive them of advertising income, but some ad-blockers have sought a middle ground, using a whitelist to allow through ads that they consider "acceptable" or where users have opted to support a site's operators by viewing advertising. Criteria for acceptability often include unobtrusiveness, silence and small size.

Eyeo has long maintained such a whitelist, but caused controversy by also accepting payment from some of the whitelisted companies.

It insists that payment does not influence inclusion on the list, and to make that relationship more transparent, early next year it intends to hand management of the whitelist, including deciding and policing the acceptance criteria, to an independent board.

Gundlach, announcing the sale of his company, said that he had long considered giving users the option to see some ads while still blocking annoying ones, but had not wanted to work with Eyeo up to now due to its close control of the whitelist. The decision to hand control to an independent board changed his mind.

"As a result, I am selling my company, and the buyer is turning on Acceptable Ads," wrote Gundlach. "My long-time managing director will keep working with the new company."

He didn't name the acquirer.

It wasn't Eyeo, said its communications manager Ben Williams, adding that the company is happy AdBlock will be using the Acceptable Ads program.

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