News

POV: Chrome to Block Annoying Ads

Background:

Google has announced that its widely used Chrome browser (just over half of all browsers used globally across all devices) will begin to ‘filter’ ‘annoying experiences’ (ads) from 2018. Reports suggest that the technology will be switched on by default on both mobile and desktop browsers. Ad blocking is a threat to the entire industry, with a Pagefair report showing there are now 615m devices blocking ads at a growth rate of 30% year on year.

Details and Implications:

Google announced last Thursday (1st June) that from next year its Chrome browser will come pre-installed with a ‘filter’ that will block the most annoying ads. The move is being made in line with the Coalition for Better Ads standards.

Publishers are being invited to see what impact the change will have on their sites by submitting them to a tool dubbed ‘The Ad Experience Report’ which will score a publishers site and tell them which of their ads are ‘annoying experiences’ and would be blocked.

At the same time that the technology is being implemented, Google is also giving publishers the option to convert those already using ad blockers into paying customers. A new service called ‘Funding Choices’ will present those using ad blocking technology and using Chrome browsers with a choice – either whitelist the site on their ad blocking software so that the site’s ‘non-annoying’ ads can be displayed or pay a small fee to access the content ad free.  

In effect this creates a global pay wall for those people who have installed ad blocking technology and use Chrome, with payments made through Google Play using a new version of the Google Contributor service and shared between Google and the publisher.

Funding Choices is available to publishers in North America, U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand and will be rolling out in other countries later this year. The ads classified as annoying include: popups, ads that flash quickly, change colours or force people to wait 10 seconds before accessing content on a publisher's page.

The ad blocking software industry has responded to the move by suggesting that due to the technology only targeting those ads identified by the Coalition for Better Ads as annoying, it will not impact the adoption of their own tools as consumers will want more stringent controls than are being offered.

Summary:

On one hand Google is striking a blow for user experience by providing the first implementation of the standards created by Coalition for Better Ads, whilst on the other it is creating a global ‘ad-blocker blocker’ to take on the growing ad blocking industry.

How many people change their browser rather than watching ads they don’t want or paying for an ad free experience, remains to be seen. A lot may depend on how other browsers follow suit – Safari has already announced it will block auto play functionality for video ads.

Further Reading:

Google AdWords Blog

Wall Street Journal

AdAge

Pagefair Report