Google's Chrome Ad Blocking Plans
by Laura Boodram
There was a sudden increase in site visits to the Coalition for Better Ads last week, after it was reported by the Wall Street Journal and Digiday, that Google is planning to institute ad blocking in its Chrome browser, based on guidelines from the Coalition for Better Ads.
Chrome accounts for 46.5% of the US browser market in the US, so a move of this measure will cause further disruption within the advertising market.
The ad blocking feature will likely be turned on, not just for the offending placements that are “deemed to be ‘beneath the threshold of consumer acceptability’”, but also for entire sites that allow these experiences to be delivered! The ad experiences in question are a mix of placements and elements which include pop-unders, prestitials, rapidly flashing animated ads and auto-playing videos with sound.
These recommendations, if adopted en-masse across the the web, will usher in a marketplace that looks like Google’s ecosystem, with true-view ads (like on Youtube), minimal ad clutter and generally a more much more rigid structure.
The Coalition surveyed 25,000 respondents after they interacted with replicated real world desktop and mobile digital experiences; Some of these experiences contained ads, and some did not. Respondents in North America and Europe ranked the experiences on multiple factors, including whether the ads were annoying or distracting – see full results below.
There were many responses from leading Industry Executives this week. Below are 4 of our favorite which take a pragmatic view of this development and consider the perspective of how to most effectively fight the ongoing battle of protecting both user experience and brand safety.
“The timing coincides with Google falling on the wrong side of the brand safety debate but I think that’s going to be a trend: as our industry embarrasses itself with the amount of fraud, non-human traffic, malvertising we allow, those with any power are going to start to make big moves and Google can do it.
My initial reaction was that I would have preferred Google doing this perhaps at the ad server level but the more I think about it, this is probably a browser level battle. If the browsers can help solve these industry problems, I think it’s harder for the bad players to respond.
For Google to be in a position to determine what ads can be served while they are in the business of selling ads and serving ads just highlights how reliant we are on Google and that’s not a good thing.”
“If we want to believe Googles own mantra, they won’t do evil. They’ve stated that the intent here is to bring order to the current wild-west of ad user experience by blocking pop-unders etc. The net effect of that will be to reduce the revenue of, let’s say, the more ‘out there’ websites (you know the ones, just go check your browser history). Is that a good thing? Well, from a UX perspective, yes, for the lifespan of those “I-might-need-a-VPN-to-visit-this-site” sites, no. Where will that take it? You’ll probably see less “Please disable your ad blocker” and more “Please don’t use Chrome to view this site”.”
“Instinctive is involved with the whitelisting efforts of the Acceptable Ads Committee and I support Google’s move to block the most intrusive and annoying ads out there. I see it as the next iteration of the popup blocker. By building this functionality in by default, it can provide a solution that still allows publishers to be paid and consumers to consume content without being annoyed. I hope that ad density is one of the parameters being judged because good publishers are constantly being punished by the artificial supply being generated by greedy publishers who overload their pages with ads with the cynical mindset that DSPs simply are too dumb to notice.”
“It’s tough to say whether or not this will be good or bad for the industry until we actually see the product, but it’s likely safe to assume that overall, this will hurt revenue for publishers. While some publishers may not necessarily be using terrible ads, they may run something Google doesn’t like, and that would be blocked. This is completely up to Google, which is the tough part. We won’t really know what they deem “bad ads” until it actually happens. My guess, it will be similar to the interstitial movement they recently pushed, dinging sites for using them. Things that block or take over the screen, cover content, etc will be seen as bad for the user and ultimately, publishers will be punished for that. There will likely be a “whitelist” of advertisers at some point as well, since that would mean more money for Google.
On the opposite end of this, it could be great for users. Even as an advertising professional myself, sometimes certain ads are just too much. I, for one, am not a fan of any sort of interstitial or screen takeovers. Hopefully this increases time spent on site, decreases bounce rates, and means people come back for more, which could actually benefit the publisher in most cases. Only time will tell, but as we all know, Google is the largest factor in advertising and can easily swing things one way or another.”