Google's block on app backfires as downloads soar in aftermath

The Google Play Store, which features apps for Android, deleted Adblock Plus, a browser add-on that allows users to whitelist or block advertisements.

Client
Adblock Plus (Germany)

Agency
Rocket Science (San Francisco, CA)

Duration
March 13-March 22

Budget
Approximately $10,000

The Google Play Store, which features apps for Android, deleted Adblock Plus, a browser add-on that allows users to whitelist or block advertisements.

Strategy
Downloaded more than 200 million times worldwide, Adblock Plus works as an add-on for Android, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

Outraged at its termination by Google and in fear of being removed elsewhere, Adblock Plus positioned its message as a public rallying cry to fight for freedom on the Web and ultimately drive more downloads.

Tactics
The company worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and leaders of the Reddit community to write letters of support for Adblock Plus.

Rocket Science sent media pitches with aggressive subject lines that read "Has Google become the playground bully?"

To counter the aggressiveness of these pitches, the agency posted a press release acknowledging the threat that Adblock Plus poses on Google's advertising revenues and explained how the product does not automatically block ads.

Results
The two-week initiative generated more than 175 pieces in Wired, Forbes, TechCrunch, and The Washington Post, and topped the leaderboard on Techmeme. The app saw more than 500,000 downloads during the week of press.

"The 250,000 users we lost from Google killing our product in its store were more than compensated by this huge PR effort," says Tim Schumacher, Adblock Plus spokesman.

Google has not deleted the add-on from the Chrome store.

Future
Adblock Plus is working to write an Acceptable Ads Manifesto in cooperation with Reddit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, and David "Doc" Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

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