Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO: AdBlock Plus is an extortion-based business

Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, we had both the founder of AdBlock Plus Till Faida and Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg on our stage — but not at the same time, mostly because Rothenberg refused to even shake hands with Faida in public.

Rothenberg minced no words in his dislike for AdBlock Plus, which will whitelist some advertisers if it deems their ads unintrusive (and — for some — when they pay), but he also mixed in a bit of understanding for those who want to use ad blockers.

“I have no argument against anybody using adblockers because there is a kernel of right when it comes to the impedance of user experience,” he said. “But as I’ve said before, this is an extortion-based business and hurts publishers.”

Noting that most publishers still earn the majority of their revenue from online ads, Rothenberg also noted that AdBlock Plus is in the business of taking the revenue that these publishers should earn and then “divert it into their own pockets.”

IAB at Disrupt Ny 2016 canva

His position, of course, doesn’t exactly come as a surprise given that the organization he represents sees ad blocking as a “threat to the free web as we know it.”

Taking a more conciliatory tone, Rothenberg also said that his organization is working with quite a few ad blocking companies — his problem is mostly with the likes of AdBlock Plus. “He thinks they are in the public service business,” he said about Faida.

He admitted that there are plenty of issues with ads causing slow load sites, but also argued that the IAB is trying to fix this through projects like its lean principles initiative.

“We are doing everything we can to work with our publishers and ad tech suppliers,” he said, noting that the main problem here is that the IAB can’t exactly set standards and that the Internet’s open architecture does allow for anybody to get into the ad business.

Rothenberg also doesn’t think ad blocking will kill online publishers anytime soon.

“It’s still not having that much of an impact outside of tech sites and gamer sites,” he said (which isn’t great for TechCrunch and similar sites, of course).

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