Is Adblock Plus An ‘Old-Fashioned Extortion Racket?’ IAB Chief Reportedly Thinks So

IAB Chief Randall Rothenberg made headlines this week when he expressed his strong opinions about Adblock Plus.

Hints of tension between the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Adblock Plus were first noticed after the news of Adblock Plus being “disinvited” from the IAB Leadership Summit started circulating.

Rothenberg apparently decided to get rid of the big elephant in the room immediately as he kicked off the popular event by sharing his opinions about Adblock Plus without any hesitation or filter, according to AdWeek.

Rothenberg introduced the topic by politely mentioning the “kerfuffle.” However, moments later, he dove straight into the land of blunt honesty without holding anything back, referring to AdBlock Plus as an “unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes at a for-profit German company.”

“You may be aware of a kerfuffle that began about 10 days ago when an unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes at a for-profit German company called Adblock Plus took to the digisphere to complain over and over that IAB had ‘disinvited’ them to this convention.”

The IAB chief continued by squashing that allegation, claiming that it “is as much a lie as the others they routinely try to tell the world.”

If Adblock Plus did not get “disinvited” to the IAB Leadership Summit, what did happen to their invitation which led to them not attending the event? According to Rothenberg, the popular software company was never invited in the first place.

Rothenberg stated that the company registered for the event online. However, as soon as IAB discovered it, the registration was reportedly canceled and their credit card billing was reversed. A cancelled registration may not be as harsh as a “disinvite,” but it still raises the question, “Why?”

During his keynote, Rothenberg did not hesitate to answer that question either with yet another blunt statement.

“For the simple reason that they are stealing from publishers, subverting freedom of the press, operating a business model predicated on censorship of content and ultimately forcing consumers to pay more money for less-and-less diverse information. Adblock Plus claims it wants to engage in dialogue. But its form of dialogue is an incessant monologue.”

The IAB Chief apparently did not stop there either. He further claimed that none of what happened surprised him, stating that it is what is expected when one’s motivation and only metric is money.

“For that is what Adblock Plus is: an old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in the flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism.”

Adblock Plus develops software that allows consumers to prevent many digital promos and advertisements from appearing during their online browsing sessions. According to AdWeek, the software company conducted a “Camp David” meeting last year with a collection of major publishers, proving their willingness to speak directly with the people that their software essentially rivaled against.

Rothenberg’s overall tone and opinionated statement about Adblock Plus and ad blockers in general seemed to take a different approach from Scott Cunningham’s publicized statement issued last October.

The senior vice president of technology and ad operations claimed that the industry group needed to take some of the blame for the rising popularity of ad blockers such as Adblock Plus.

According to Cunningham, IAB “messed up” and could have done more when it came to moving publishers away from the excessively loading consumer web pages and mobile devices with advertisements. Cunningham stated that the group’s “scraping of dimes may have cost [them] dollars in consumer loyalty.”

A vast number of marketers were not able to attend the IAB Leadership Summit in Palm Desert, California. However, unlike Adblock Plus, their absence from the event was primarily due to the inclement weather that struck the East Coast last weekend instead of having their registrations cancelled by the advertising bureau.

[Image Credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images]