The Alphabet-owned tech giant Google may be making a seemingly odd move in the not too distant future, as new reports from within the company are pointing towards a Chrome-based ad blocker. The blocker would be an extension of some of their other recent moves, like docking sites with annoying pop-up ads, but still has some publishers scratching their heads. Why would Google, a company that benefits so much from online advertising, want to limit the proliferation of advertisements served into web browsers around the world? A product that on the surface could hurt the online advertising industry might be just the thing the mobile ad world needs to keep moving forward.
The mobile publishing industry has seen a slow march towards this point in the saga of ad blocking. There is a realization that annoying, intrusive ads are driving away readers, and forcing them to take matters into their own hands, with apps like Adblock Plus. But even Adblock Plus realizes the importance of effective advertising for publishers, and in January they revealed their own advertising platform. Google has taken steps as well, like docking sites using interstitial advertisements to help stem the tide of poor and intrusive advertising. And while ad blocking numbers have started to plateau in some parts of the world, the percentage of users employing some sort of software is still troubling to the major advertising players.
That brings us back to Google’s rumored new ad blocker. The company knows that the best reality going forward is an emphasis on creative, non-intrusive advertising, especially on mobile. They will be using standards set forth by the Coalition for Better Ads that were released in March of this year. Under those rules pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ads with density greater than 30 percent flashing animated ads, auto-play video ads with sound, poststitial ads with countdown, full-screen scroll over ads, and large sticky ads would all be blocked for those using the Chrome browser on mobile devices. And with almost 50 percent of browser users in the United States choosing Chrome, it would have a major impact on publishers using those types of ads.
These standards were the result of a survey done by the Coalition in which more than 25,000 consumers were asked about their experiences with online ads. If Google can get rid of these, or limit the amount readers see, the advertising industry will benefit as a result. For publishers, this means driving more engagement with the ads served on their sites, and boosting monetization with an active user base. Keith Weed, chief marketing officer for Unilever, put it this way: “As an industry we have a responsibility to find better ways of making great advertising and content that really engages people. It’s in everyone’s interest; better advertising leads to a better experience for the viewer and more effective advertising for brand.”
While the headlines might at first seem contrarian, Google’s future plans in the ad blocking space have the online advertising and publishing industries’ best interests at heart. After all, Google does place almost half of all digital advertising by itself. This is another move, like the docking of interstitials, to create a better user experience online for readers across the Internet, which is at the top of Google’s to-do list.