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Publishers and marketers alike are reeling after The Wall Street Journal reported late on Thursday, April 20 that Alphabet Inc.’s Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature to Chrome.
The new feature will reportedly be enabled by default in both mobile and desktop versions of the popular browser and block ads that do not conform to the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads.
More frightening still is the threat that sites that are riddled with ads deemed offensive to these set standards could find all advertisements, regardless of compliance, blocked by Google. For publishers who rely on advertising for ongoing revenue, this could lead to a chilling effect. For marketers, this aggressive ad blocking could also limit the amount of money we’re willing to funnel into more traditional online ad campaigns, leading to a rise in paid content options like native advertising, more social advertising and other ad formats not reliant on the browser.
The Coalition for Better Ads developed the Better Ads Standards for web and mobile in North America and Europe after conducting research involving more than 25,000 consumers to identify ad experiences that rank lowest across a number of user experience factors.
Formats that don’t meet the organization’s criteria for desktop include:
Formats that don’t meet the organization’s criteria for mobile include:
The new default ad blocking feature is a troubling addition for many marketers and publishers who rely on online ads to drive revenue. As of May 2016, Chrome controlled 41.66% of the market share in the battle of the browsers.
As of December 2016, 11% of the global Internet population was blocking ads on the web, adding up to roughly 615 million devices, according to the 2017 Adblock Report. This number is increasing exponentially each year, with a 30% year-over-year growth rate.
In countries like the United States, 54 million devices have ad block software, according to PageFair. More than 85% of those devices are desktop. Desktop users have been able to install ad block software and extensions on their browsers for years now, but mobile versions of the browser and applications have lacked support.
With the potential introduction of a default ad blocker feature on Chrome’s mobile and desktop, the number of ads blocked on mobile is going to skyrocket. For marketers using mobile as a primary advertising avenue, this means a swift change in strategy to avoid wasted budgets and poor results.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s source, Google could make the announcement of the feature within the next few weeks, but is still making adjustments and could decide not to move ahead with the plan. It’s still very unclear.
Google is one of the largest retailers of online advertising. Online advertising is such a revenue driver that Google reportedly paid the owner of Adblock Plus to unblock ads on their websites at a fee of 30% of the additional ad revenues they would have made if the ads were unblocked, according to the Financial Times in 2015.
As marketers, we could say that ad blocking becoming the norm was an expected shoe to drop – we were just waiting for the shoe.
Experientially positive advertising is always the goal for creating lifelong customers and brand evangelists. What will be interesting to see is whether the potential addition of a default ad blocker to Chrome will result in a positive user experience.
We know that 77% of ad blocker users are willing to view some ad formats. The question is whether Google and the Coalition for Better Ads know customers as much as they think they do to determine which ad is bad and which is good for a user.
I’m not so positive on that front.
Featured image source: Get Adblock
Topics: Digital Marketing