Chrome’s Built-In Ad Blocker: What’s the Real Story?

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On April 19th, the Wall Street Journal published an article that trumpeted Google’s intent (perhaps) to make an ad blocker a default setting in Chrome for desktop and mobile. “The ad-blocking feature…would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web,” explained the Journal. Seems they would base that evaluation on unacceptable ad types as defined by the industry group, Coalition for Better Ads: pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers. And it could be an all or nothing application—all ads on a site would have to meet standards or every ad would be blocked!

Google tried to tamp down industry anxiety. As reported by CNBC, a Google spokesperson said: “We’ve said publicly for awhile now that Google alone cannot solve the bad experiences users have online — we need a data-driven industry approach to improving ads experiences. As a member of the [Coalition], we’ve been talking to a number industry associations, publishers, advertisers and other technology companies about the development of the Better Ads Standard. One option we’re exploring is how Chrome could help support this Standard…”

It’s also been reported that Google does NOT plan to exempt itself from the restrictions.

The ad industry has expressed its thoughts—and you may be surprised how positive some of the commentary is.

Michael Korsunsky, CMO of the native ad network MGID, predicted we’d start to see the consolidation of ad filtering tools on a browser level back in December. He now says…

“First and foremost, this is a positive development for the industry, and we’ll likely see more of this ‘clean-up’, similar to what we saw with pop-up blockers being replaced by browser functionality.

“This is unlikely to affect ad content, but rather ad formats, and could very well lead to a universal DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) compliance requirement being imposed on all ads in order to be served in Chrome. Since Chrome has nearly 60 percent of total market share, Google could easily kill third-party ad blocking software by making it incompatible with Chrome.

“At the end of the day, agreeing on and enforcing objective advertising standards, with inevitable participation from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, will be significantly more likely than allowing one private company to determine what makes an ad acceptable.”

Jason Beckerman, CEO, Unified, says:

“Native ads, which fit in with content on social, are far more likely to be accepted by users than popups, unders, or overall poor experience ads on mobile. That said, there exists potential issues with this tactic and I’m not sure if this adblocker will also scrape ads out of native placements; it’s necessary to be careful about this as that could do irreparable harm to the ecosystem.
  
  
Jakob Holm Kalkar, VP European Operations, Blackwood Seven says:

“This is a smart move by Google to show leadership and drive agenda, as set out by the Coalition for Better Ads.

“It’s also a move that could potentially strengthen Google’s already dominating position in the digital ad space. Google, more or less, controls the browser market and an introduction of an ad-blocking feature would therefore, by default, secure a strong position in the ad-blocking market and through that an even more dominant in the advertising space.”

Brian Baumgart, CEO & Co-founder, Conversion Logic says:

“Standardization and best practices are welcome in an industry where these are a rarity. The Coalition for Better Ads plans to continue its research beyond the 25,000 internet users in North America and Europe. The hope is user control could provide a deeper understanding of their interests, which could provide insights for marketers’ to achieve 1:1 marketing.”

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