Google has officially launched default ad-blocking software on its popular Chrome browser in conjunction with standards from the Coalition for Better Ads, beginning on February 15. The decision to filter ads based on the coalition’s standards came in June 2017, with the web company hoping to reduce the amount of ads that users find intrusive.
The Coalition for Better Ads, of which Google is a board member, established a set of 12 ads that desktop and mobile web users found detrimental to user experience based on consumer input and empirical data, according to the coalition. These ads include pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, full-screen scrollover ads and large sticky ads, among others.
Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, the vice president of Chrome, said two days before the ad blocker went into effect that Google ads could also be affected by the change, asserting that the web experience for users is a higher priority than monetary gains from disruptive ads.
“We’ve already seen more and more people express their discontent with annoying ads by installing ad blockers, but blocking all ads can hurt sites or advertisers who aren’t doing anything disruptive,” Roy-Chowdhury said in a Google blog post. “By focusing on filtering out disruptive ad experiences, we can help keep the entire ecosystem of the web healthy, and give people a significantly better user experience than they have today.”
Some still believe that the ad-blocking efforts by Google are self-serving. Chantal Tode and Erica Sweeney of Marketing Dive wrote about concern from legal experts who think Google could use the decision to block disruptive ads to their advantage.
“Critics including legal experts and industry sources insist Google’s ad-blocking policy will mostly not apply to the ads placed on Google sites, which could prompt advertisers to direct more ad dollars at the company,” they wrote. “Most of the blocking will apply to pop-up and auto-play ads, while Google generates most of its revenue from text search ads and rectangular display ads.”
More Changes Ahead
Google is not the only industry powerhouse involved with the Coalition for Better Ads. Other board members include the Association of National Advertisers, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, and the World Federation of Advertisers.
But whatever Google’s motivations behind the move may be, the coalition continues to welcome new content publishers to the Better Ads Experience Program. Just as Google launched the ad-blocking campaign on Chrome, the coalition concurrently announced that they have opened enrollment for the program for organizations that wish to participate.
Interested publishers have until at least July 1 to register for the program free of charge. After that, registration will come with a fee.
Google Chrome currently sees the highest use of any web browser, used by 56 percent of internet users, according to StatCounter. Its closest competitor, for comparison, is Apple’s Safari browser which is used by 14 percent of internet users.