You can just twist the words a bit then - instead of Google paying for Bing's traffic to be reduced, they could simply pay for their traffic to always be sent first. Not affecting anybody but Google then, right?
Also, sponsoring Adblock is changing the market conditions. Adblock can use the money provided by Google to make sure any non-Google ad is blocked more efficiently. They can also advertise their addon better, provide better support, etc. Google sponsoring Adblock directly affects Adblock's ability to block the adverts of other companies around the world.
To me, this is changing market conditions in the same way as my AT&T example. Google paying AT&T enough money for priority could allow AT&T to build new 'Google only' cables that Bing couldn't use. Google paying Adblock enough money to whitelist their ads could allow Adblock to grow enough to block Bing ads on a large percentage of user's browsers. Very, very similar.
> ...they could simply pay for their traffic to always be sent first. Not affecting anybody but Google then, right?
As long as others have the same option, what's the problem? The article specifically says "Google is not the only company." (at least the Google translated page does).
> Also, sponsoring Adblock is changing the market conditions
Sponsoring? Maybe you can parse the original article in the language it was written, but I cannot and the translated article doesn't seem accurate enough for me to make assertions as to exactly what Google is and isn't doing, or more specifically, what Adblock Plus is or isn't doing when Google, or possibly many others, give them money.
> To me, this is changing market conditions in the same way as my AT&T example
How is this different than Google taking out a full page add in the New York Times? In both cases Google is paying a third party which does not have complete control of the marker for some advantage (exposure in the NYT case). It's not as if they are paying for nobody else to be able to do as much (and even if they were, that's not a problem as long as a competitor could outbid them for the same right)
Critical distinction, people freely choose to install AdBlock Plus. There are already alternatives, and the barrier to entry for new competitors is pretty low. This is unlike the ISP market, which is not meaningfully competitive in a good chunk of the world.
In my area, if Charter and CenturyLink both chose to de-prioritize Netflix traffic, that would be the end of it. I would have no economic alternative. But if AdBlock Plus started showing me ads that annoyed me, I could just go download a different adblocker.
 I don't actually use AdBlock Plus. I use AdBlock for Chrome, which is a separate product.
So is Google's altruistic alternative to find ways to sabotage Adblock so it won't block anyone's ads? To create their own adblocker that doesn't block Google ads? Or just to pay Adblock to go away and stop blocking all ads?
Is there any action that Google could take that would appear ethical?
I do see your point that other advertisers are unlikely to have "acceptable" ads because they rely on flash and images, but shouldn't they have to make themselves competitive if they want to maintain a level playing field?
If this pushes advertising further away from flashing, shouting, animated ads then it sounds like a brighter future to me.