Google Ends Partnership With AdBlock Plus’ Partner for ‘Acceptable Ads’ Marketplace

'Not a business that we want to be a part of'

COLOGNE, Germany—Only one day after AdBlock Plus launched an advertising marketplace claiming that Google would sell ads that would be served to people who have installed an ad blocker, Google's ads boss told reporters this morning that the company is terminating its relationship with ComboTag—the ad-tech company that AdBlock Plus' parent company Eyeo GmbH is working with.

"We were just as surprised by the announcement as you were," said Sridhar Ramaswamy, svp of ads and commerce, while talking to reporters before his keynote at Dmexco. "We certainly have no relationship with Eyeo when it comes to this effort."

"So, we are moving to terminate our relationship with ComboTag, which is the intermediary that Eyeo is working with. In all of this, it reinforces our—and my—strong belief that the core issue is the need for an ads standard that the industry endorses."

Google works with ComboTag to help publishers that are plugged into the DoubleClick ad network place their ads on exchanges. According to Ramaswamy, Google is ending its relationship with the ad-tech company because, "They in turn have created this relationship with Eyeo, which is now going from being an ad-blocking company to being a provider of ads—this is not a business that we want to be a part of."

AppNexus has also cut ties with Eyeo GmbH over the new ad exchange. A spokesperson for the company said, in a statement, "AppNexus does not work with companies like Eyeo; we regard their business practices as fundamentally harmful to the ecosystem. Essentially, Eyeo, via its Adblock product, erects toll booths on a public road and siphons off advertising dollars that should be going directly to publishers. We hold that practice in low regard."

However, during an interview immediately following the news briefing, Ben Williams, director of communications and operations at Eyeo said, "Nothing has changed since yesterday. Google and AppNexus are still demand-side partners."

The ad-blocking comment was part of Ramaswamy's broader message to marketers on how they can fine-tune their campaigns, which also includes two new ad formats and a handful of stats about how consumers are searching for and watching videos online.

Improving the speed and efficiency for brands to run large-scale campaigns is a big part of that. Google claims that 53 percent of people will leave a mobile site if it takes three seconds or more to load.

Today Google is launching a new universal ad format for apps that lets marketers target campaigns towards specific audiences. For example, brands can hone in on users who are likely to redeem a deal or use a specific function within the app.

"Android users have installed more than 65 billion apps in Google Play just in the last year, but we live in a world where there are more than four million apps to choose from and attention spans are smaller than ever before," Ramaswamy said during his keynote. "Our goal is to place your app in front of the right user at exactly the right moment."

To set up a campaign, advertisers set their cost-per-install and their goals. Google will then find users across Google Play, Google search, YouTube and on publishers' sites to target ads towards.

In terms of YouTube, Google is expanding its TrueView for action ad formats so that advertisers can add a call-to-action to their videos. In an example Ramaswamy showed on stage, Mazda is testing the tool with a button below its YoutTube video that drives users to a website to learn more about the car advertised in the spot.

As Google has been pushing marketers to move TV dollars to digital, marketers have complained that the measurement between the two formats isn't the same, which Ramaswamy addressed during his keynote. A TV spot reaching 10 million consumers can't be measured the same as a digital spot that's accumulated 100 million YouTube views, for example.

To that end, Google is working to open up third-party verification tools to advertisers, and Ramaswamy said that future partnerships are in the works.

"We know that this will solve a pain point for many of you who want to compare online video with a version of television," he said.