April 28, 2017
Google is looking to introduce ad-blocking to its Chrome browser, on both desktop and mobile. This would be a huge move for a number of reasons.
Firstly, current ad-block software usage is around 22%, which is roughly where it was at the previous year. It’s reached a plateau, and it’s probably fair to say that advertisers are happy enough with this status quo of ad-blockers flatlining. However, it’s estimated that close to 60% of the browser market share belongs to Chrome – so should Google roll this out, ad-block usage would skyrocket over night. That’s quite a big deal for advertisers and publishers.
Secondly, and I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on you – Google makes its money from ads. But by joining (and most likely winning) the ad-blocking arms race, Google gains an extremely important asset – control. If 89% of your revenue came from advertising (around 60 billion USD last year), and you’re at the mercy of third party ad blocking software, it’s not hard to see why Google would want to reduce that risk. In addition, Google and other large entities currently pay Adblock a licensing fee to be whitelisted in their software (while still having to conform to Adblock’s Acceptable Ads policy). It’s a no-brainer, you might say.
Also consider the 4 million advertisers that spend money on Google’s platforms, and the countless websites whose sole source of income is Google Ads. At the risk of drawing an analogy to a drug cartel, having the organisation that traffics your product also control the border checkpoints is a good thing from their point of view.
So how will Google police it?
Well, late last year the biggest online advertising stakeholders, advertisers and media owners; The IAB, Facebook, DCN, News Corp, P&G, and Unilever amongst many others, formed the Coalition for Better Ads. After a comprehensive research piece (https://www.betterads.org/research/), they ascertained the “ad experiences that were least preferred by consumers and beneath the initial Better Ads Standard” – essentially the ad types that annoyed people the most – and created a new standard, which outlines the ad types that should be avoided, split by desktop and mobile. Google will look to this as how it polices ads.
So with the world’s biggest online advertising stakeholders defining rules and policing them – is this a good thing for the every day consumer? Well, considering these companies are already paying Adblock to be whitelisted, if Google do go ahead with adding native ad-blocking to Chrome we’ll just end up with a different organ grinder, but the same monkey.