Next Up in the Ad-blocking War: Asking Readers to Tip Publishers

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Adblock Plus, the company that has built a business on helping readers avoid ads, has a new payment system in the works. Later this year, Adblock Plus will launch a new feature that allows users to tip the websites they visit.

Adblock Plus, the company that has built a business on helping readers avoid ads, has a new payment system in the works. Later this year, Adblock Plus will launch a new feature that allows users to tip the websites they visit. Its objective is to "revolutionize web monetization" by eliminating most ads and instead have readers pay publishers. Adblock Plus will take a cut of the profits, of course.The new feature is being built in a partnership with Flattr, a micro-donation platform. How it works is users download the Flattr Plus browser extension and specify how much money they want to give to their favorite sites on a monthly basis. An algorithm then distributes the money to the sites readers are most "engaged" with. Flattr and Adblock will keep a combined 10 percent of all revenue passing through its system, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The company has not specified what is considered an "engagement," however. Convincing readers to pay for content that they're used to receiving for free has also been extremely challenging. It is unlikely that readers would pay on a voluntary basis for content.

Furthermore, advertising models are much more profitable than donations. In a blog post, Adblock Plus says its goal is to "raise a half billion dollars" for publishers in 2017. That's great, but ad blockers already led to a loss of nearly $22 billion in revenue during the first seven months of 2015, according to a report from Adobe and PageFair. To say there would be a lot of belt-tightening under Adblock Plus' strategy is an understatement.

At 500 million downloads, Adblock Plus is one of the most popular ad blocking vendors. Its competitor, AdBlock has about 200 million downloads. But Adblock Plus' micropayment strategy ignores the fact that people just want the content. Throwing up barriers, whether it's a pop-up ad or asking users to download a browser extension and pay for content is still an interruptive experience.

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