Google’s plans for a native Chrome ad blocker are moving forward, and advertisers are starting to get on board. According to a report by the Financial Times, many publishers had concerns following the announcement that it would cut into their revenues, but have since been reassured that Google’s plans are a positive move.
“I welcome their involvement as long as they don’t go for a nuclear option,” said Jay Lauf, president and publisher of Quartz. “If they’re more considered and surgical, I think it has a chance to be a really positive development. There’s an opportunity to clean a lot of the junk out of the system.”
“We welcome any initiative that helps to create an open web where the experience of readers is put first,” added a spokesperson Guardian Media Group.
Unlike many of the most popular ad blockers in use today, including AdBlock Plus, Adblocker Ultimate, and uBlock Origins, the Chrome ad blocker is intended to focus on the most problematic and “annoying” ads. That includes “pop-up ads, auto-play video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdown and large sticky ads.” That definition comes courtesy of the Coalition for Better Ads, an independent organization formed by a group of companies in March, including Google, Facebook, Newscorp, and more. The Coalition’s goal is to eliminate “ads that disrupt [consumer’s] experience, interrupt content and slow browsing.”
The native Chrome ad blocker will also seek to supplant current offerings with ads which consumers find less bothersome; currently, it’s estimated that about 26 percent of internet users use an ad blocker, a number which keeps increasing as browsers become increasingly frustrated with online ad companies that have no standards or oversights, and as “poisoned” ads continue to be responsible for security breaches and installing malware on target machines.
According to Tripwire, poisoned ads have even been spread by major websites recently, including MSN, BBC, the New York Times, AOL, and Newsweek, hijacking browsers and installing malicious software.
Of course, Google still faces plenty of challenges and criticism in bringing a native Chrome ad blocker to life. Google is the web’s largest advertising provider already, making some 86 percent of their revenue from advertising – and Chrome is the most popular web browser, making up over 50 percent of the market share. By adding a native ad blocker to Chrome, where they decide which ads are shown and which are blocked, Google is potentially drastically increasing their already impressive hold on the online advertising market. Add to that Google’s policies about which sort of sites they will serve – for example, they won’t service adult sites – and their stranglehold on the search engine market, and you have a real recipe for one company controlling the content of the open web.
As such, regulatory agencies and anti-trust watchdog groups are lining up to keep an eye on Google. The European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said that “We will follow this new feature and its effects closely.”
That ironically includes many members of the Coalition for Better Ads. Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, a group representing more than 70 major media companies including News Corp and The Washington Post – both Coalition members – spoke up about the potential pitfalls of a native Chrome ad blocker.
“The world of ad blocking is as murky as they come. Friends and enemies can easily be confused, good and evil often mistaken and interests aren’t always as they appear.”
Meanwhile, Google continues to forge ahead with their plans, indicating that they are “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,” and industry experts believe that a native Chrome ad blocker could be announced as soon as the Google I/O conference in May.
[Featured Image by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]