In May of last year, Eyeo — the parent company of Adblock Plus — announced a partnership with content-funding tool Flattr to create something called Flattr Plus.
It offers a browser extension that automatically pays a small fee for web content when a visitor goes to a participating site. Payment amounts to the site are based on a Flattr-defined formula for user engagement, and the process is automatic once everything is set up.
The Cologne, Germany-based Adblock owed a minority stake in the Sweden-based Flattr, and this week Adblock announced it is buying the company outright. Deal terms were not made public.
The automated payment is the main difference between Flattr Plus and the previous Flattr service, which had required the user to click a button to “flatter” the site. Now, Flattr — which says it has paid more than 30,000 online content creators over its lifetime — is making Flattr Plus its main service.
Adblock Plus is the most popular ad-blocking software, with more than 100 million users worldwide, so Flattr Plus offered some payment to sites where Adblock helped to prevent ad revenue.
In fact, Eyeo announced last September that it would start selling ads that met its “acceptable ads” criteria. Publishers using the ads wouldn’t be blocked by Adblock Plus.
In a statement accompanying this week’s acquisition announcement, Flattr co-founder Peter Sunde said:
We’re excited to continue our work on the Flattr project to give back control to the users of the internet. They should decide how they want to use the internet and how they want to support the content they enjoy.
And Eyeo founder Till Faida also told news media:
Together, constructive ad blocking and Flattr complete eyeo’s vision of putting users in control of an internet that is fair and still profitable…
Faida did not clarify how ad blocking and discretionary micro-payments lead to a “still profitable” internet.
Flattr had previously gained attention when it became the alternative method for donating to WikiLeaks, after major credit cards and PayPal stopped accepting payments because of leaks of secret US government material.
Sunde’s background includes co-founding The Pirate Bay, a site for freely sharing copyrighted content like movies and music.
The core Flattr team will continue in Malmö, Sweden, its home base. Co-founder Linus Olsson will maintain his role as head of operations, and Sunde will become an advisor.