Alpahbet Inc’s Google is planning on introducing a built in ad blocker to the mobile and desktop versions of the Chrome web browser, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The feature might be turned on by default within Chrome and would be designed to block any advertising deemed unacceptable by the Coalition for Better Ads. This would include Pop-up Ads, autoplaying video ads with sound, prestitial (full screen) Ads with countdown, flashing animated ads and excessively large ads.
There are a few ways that Google might implement the feature. The report suggestions that one option could be to block any and all advertising on a website if it includes even a single offending ad. This method would ensure website owners take extra care to ensure that all advertising on their site is high quality. The second option is to only block offending ads, Google has to comment which, if any, of these strategies it will use.
Why would Google want a built in ad blocker?
The real question is, given that Google makes a lot of money from advertising, why would they be encouraging the use of ad-blocking software. To understand the reason, we need to put the move into context.
In it’s 2017 report Pagefair estimated that there has been a 30% increase in the number of people using ad-blocking software in 2016. The trend does not look like it will reverse any time soon. Interestingly, Pagefair, a company that helps publishers recover revenue lost due to ad-blocking, also pointed out that methods like “Ad Block walls” were deeply ineffective. While 90% of ad blocker users had encountered one of these walls, 74% of them simply looked for a different website, rather than whitelisting them.
The report shows that users are turning to adblockers for a variety of reasons. The two largest concerns are Security and Ads interrupting browsing sessions. Despite the low number citing privacy as a reason PageFair argues that “The genie is out of the bottle and if the industry had taken privacy and data protection seriously this might not have happened.”.
In this context, Google’s move makes a lot of sense. For most users, the problem is not advertising itself, it is the quality of the advertising being offered. The nightmare scenario for Google, who made over $60 billion in advertising last year, would be a mass take up of indiscriminate ad-blocking software.
Instead, Google seems to be planning to use Chrome’s huge market share in order to take control of the ad-blocking business. A built in ad blocker will ensure that users still see Google advertising and possibly reduce the negative reputation that online ads have acquired. Google has a strong interest in users accepting some level of advertising and the current situation undermines that interest.
Google’s move signifies a shift in the Ad-blocking debate and I think that their involvement will be positive. It will force advertisers to up their game or get kicked out of it. Hopefully making the internet a better place for all of us.