According to the latest report by the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature in the mobile and desktop versions of Chrome web browser. This feature can be switched on by default within Chrome and can filter out certain ad types which may provide a bad experience for the users as they scroll through the page.
Ad blockers, which are also known as content blockers, are a simple software designed to prevent advertisements from being shown on websites. It is one of the fastest growing phenomena in internet usage. They are typically browser add-ons which is available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer web browser.
Pop-up ads are one of the least preferred ad experiences by mobile users, according to an extensive survey of 25,000 by the Coalition for Better Ads. Google’s Chrome browser supports various extensions. But these extensions may no longer be necessary because Google is planning to build an ad blocker directly inside Chrome itself. The search engine giant is likely to announce this in the coming weeks. This move would fundamentally change how we consume media.
This feature will not filter out all ads, only the ones which don’t comply with the list of standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads. It includes formats such as pop up’s, videos that play automatically or ads with countdown timers. These pop up ads are just getting worse. And in light of this growing problem, Google has come up with a solution. This may turn out to be effective and may even provide users with a better experience.
As of now, 26% of American users have an ad blocker installed on their desktop. And along with Google, Microsoft is also working to bring a built in ad blocker to its Windows 10 Default browser, Microsoft Edge.
As for Google’s approach, they can go one of two ways:
- One option is to block all advertisements on a website, even if it includes only one offending ad.
- The other option is to only block the offending ad and leave the other ads visible.
It’s not yet clear how Google will proceed, but it will be interesting to follow the company’s announcements in the coming months, given how significant AdWords revenue is to Google’s business.
Why this feature?
Everyone on our team is certainly questioning the reasons behind Google’s decision to create an ad blocker in the first place.
- One major reason must be to minimize the losses the company suffers as a result of ad blocking. If bad ads are filtered out, internet users will be more receptive to good ads and thus less inclined to block them.
- Another reason is browser competition. Most of the browsers like Opera and UC Browser have already accepted ad blocking and provide users with their own built-in version. Chrome does not do so on mobile, they have this feature only on the desktop. Users have come to expect this feature on mobile, which is also turning up the pressure on Google.
Though not directly, Chrome does already block some ads. A feature enabled by default in the browser prevents the pop-ups from being shown unless the site is specifically whitelisted.
This may come as good news for the millions of people who use AdBlock to keep their browsing experience safe from malware, intrusive advertising, and tracking. But this in-built ad browser for Chrome may not be a good announcement for the online publishers who are struggling to drive revenue on digital platforms.
There have been mixed reactions to this news and a lot of people are raising antitrust questions. There is also a strong argument to this – some believe this is an anti-competitive move to suppress the competing ad firms.
Chrome has nearly 60% share of the internet browser market and Google is a major player in the paid search and display industry.
But why would Google do this when it makes billions in online ad revenue?
While there are a lot of speculations, Google has a reasonable argument for this move.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that this has something to do with the growth of third-party ad blockers, which may be starting to make Google nervous. Starting their own ad blocker gives Google greater control over the situation. This is likely the strongest motivation for developing the Chrome ad blocker.
- Also, by deterring users from installing third-party blockers, Google will be able to ensure that at least certain ads are reaching more consumers. It takes some of the control away from consumers and gives it back to Google, which generated more than $60 billion in revenue from online advertising in 2016.
What publishers should be doing to prepare:
- This is the best time to assess your ad environment and understand how this impacts your ad blocking rates.
- Think beyond a potential Chrome bad ad filter and ad blocking in general. The publishers need to navigate the ad blocking era by growing visitor relationships beyond monetizing eyeballs.
Unfortunately, the rumor isn’t confirmed yet, and Google could still decide “not to move ahead with the plan”, according to “people familiar with the company’s plans.”
Google passed along a statement: “We do not comment on rumor or speculation. We’ve been working closely with the Coalition for Better Ads and industry trades to explore a multitude of ways Google and other members of the Coalition could support the Better Ads Standards.”
So we’ll have to wait until the company officially announces this new feature.