If so, you might be in luck.
AdBlock Plus, the world’s most popular ad blocker, just named the first members to the independent board it’s tasked with deciding which ads are allowed to pass through its filter for free.
The controversial program has been a flashpoint in the ongoing battle between ad blockers and the digital media and advertising industries.
Most of the committee’s 11 seats are filled by industry professionals and consumer advocates, some of whom work at companies that openly despise AdBlock Plus.
But one yet-to-be-filled slot is designated for an “ordinary user,” whom the company will recruit via social media starting Wednesday.
The company claims the appointment of a voluntary representative of the web’s unwashed masses will be an “industry first,” which is believable considering this sort of program doesn’t have much precedent.
“[It] will represent the very first time that an actual user will have an equal part in a decision-making process with advertising ecosystem professionals,” AdBlock Plus spokesman Ben Williams wrote in the announcement Wednesday.
The committee will meet at least twice a year to review and adjust the rules governing which ads are whitelisted. The members are intentionally split between two presumably opposing factions — those pushing business interests and those sticking up for users.
Eyeo, the blocker’s German parent company, has been trying to staff this board for nearly a year and a half.
Given the animosity between it and the industries from which it is recruiting, it’s been a fraught process, characterized by a series of tense backroom “peace summits” held across the United States and Europe. After all, these are people who have likened the company to “highway robbery,” “terrorists” and “inner city crack dealers,” among other things.
So why even bother with olive branches? Contrary to its name, AdBlock Plus makes its money by charging big companies fees to bypass its firewall and show ads deemed “non-intrusive.” It also whitelists the ads of smaller sites that meet the same standard for free on a case-by-case basis.
The company’s reputation among its reluctant customers, which include Google, Microsoft and Taboola, as well as its tens of millions of users depends, to some extent, on the perceived legitimacy of this program.
As of now, Eyeo operates this whitelist itself. It also contracts it out to AdBlock (confusingly, a different company) and mobile ad blocking app Crystal.
All told, more than 130 million people have downloaded blockers subject to these rules.
With such high stakes, it’s no surprise that online publishers have been frustrated with the opaque nature of the vetting process.
The formation of a separate council that’s not beholden to the company’s interests is supposed to appease some of these concerns and make the enterprise more accountable.
Nevertheless, some of the board member’s employers don’t seem overly enthusiastic about the program.
A spokesman for Conde Nast, the company behind glossies like the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, said it is taking part in spite of its continued opposition to Eyeo.
“Conde Nast is committed to participating in important industry conversations,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement. “But we oppose the practices of Eyeo and any companies which inhibit the distribution of great content for a value exchange.”
Dell, meanwhile, stressed that its employee’s seat on the board should not be taken as a company-wide endorsement.
Williams told Business Insider that many of the people the organizers approached gave them the cold shoulder.
“Of course we had some people who didn’t think it would be a good idea and there were some people who had a very emotional response to even talking to an ad blocker,” Williams told the site.
Jason Kint, who heads a trade group that represents the online business interests of high-profile publishers like the New York Times, Vox Media and ESPN, refused to even attend the peace summits out of protest.
Eyeo has combatted all this industry hate with a public relations narrative built around consumer rights. It claims its business model is a stand for everyday web surfers who are tired of clunky, disruptive and sometimes malicious ads, a sentiment that is undeniably evident in the surge in popularity ad blockers have seen in recent years.
Accordingly, the company has included “ordinary users” along with industry professionals in some of the discussions leading up to Wednesday’s announcement.
The lucky average Joe or Jane chosen for the board can potentially look forward to all of these things: a bitter war between existentially opposed industries, decisions that can make or break the fortunes of entire companies and intense professional cattiness.
Should be a blast.
Interested users can apply here.