August 9, 2017 Last Updated 2:27 pm

Is Chrome ad-blocker planned for next year a business killer?

Guest Column: Ryan Gould, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, says news of Google’s ad blocking web browser may not be as apocalyptic as it sounds, though publishers may need to make changes to the ads they are displaying

Google announced plans to infuse its web browser, Chrome, with an ad blocker sometime next year. Considering that Chrome maintains 54% of the global browser market, that might sound downright frightening, particularly if your organization relies on ad revenue to any degree. Is the new Chrome add-on a business killer or will there be some way to bypass the browser’s ad blocking abilities?


Cleaning Up Annoying Ads 

Since the initial announcement, Google has been preparing publishers by telling them to strip their sites of any ads that may be deemed “disruptive.” That’s good news, as it means the new version of Chrome won’t wipe out all ads from the web. It will instead focus on those ads that are truly annoying, like auto play videos and prestitial ads — those ad pages that show up before the home page loads. The new add-on will also warn users when they might be exposed to content that could be harmful to their devices.

If you’re squirming in your chair because your site contains one or more of these disruptive elements, don’t feel bad. According to Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president for ads and ecommerce at Google, even Google owns or serves up ads that will be blocked by Chrome in the near future. But you can bet that most or all of Google’s ads will comply with the ad blocker once the new version of Chrome is released.

Google isn’t even calling the new add-on a blocker. It is an ad filter, reports The Wall Street Journal. That’s because the new browser, which will work on both desktop and mobile devices, will still allow ads to be displayed on pages, as long as they meet the proper criteria.

How Do You Know if Your Ads Comply?

Chrome will only allow ads that follow the Better Ads Standards, which were developed after “comprehensive research” involving over 25,000 test subjects. For desktops, this means pop-ups, autoplay videos, ads with countdown timers, and large sticky ads. For mobile, this includes pop-ups, prestitial ads, and ads with greater than 30% density. Flashing automated ads, countdown ads, autoplay video ads with sound, and full-screen scroll-over ads, as well as sticky ads, are also not allowed.

The standards were created by the Coalition for Better Ads, which is an industry organization that released a list of offensive ads back in March. It should be noted that Google is a member of that organization.

What Businesses Need to Know

Google plans to reach out to publisher partners in order to provide clear guidelines for what acceptable ads will entail. Google will also release a tool publishers can use to test their ads to ensure compliance. All of this is in the works for the coming year. But, if anything is constant, it’s change, and those plans could be altered at any time.

While news of the new ad blocker may fill you with fear, there are some benefits to both publishers and consumers.

Consumers benefit because annoying ads tend to slow the Internet down, mucking-up the browser experience. And customer experience should always be your utmost priority.

That’s why so many people download ad blockers to begin with, to remove all advertisements, not just the ones that pop out at you and demand to be looked at.

With many websites relying on ads to remain solvent, you might think a world armed with ad blockers would look like a wasteland, and that your website is doomed to go under.

What’s clear is that the new blocker gives Google more power than any one organization should have when it comes to policing the Internet. Google wants to clean up the web, but it also wants to protect its revenue.

Ryan GouldAs it stands, Ad-blocking technology is largely run by third parties, and Google pays some of those third parties for whitelisting its advertising content. This will cut down on that revenue nicely.

By infusing Chrome with ad-blocking abilities, Google effectively limits the spread of wholesale ad blocking to give users a better web experience. Publishers, then, get to continue using the ad models that have served the Internet for decades, though many will inevitably lose some valuable ad units in the process.

The news of Google’s ad blocking web browser is not as apocalyptic as it sounds. You can still display ads. You just might have to switch up the ads you’re displaying if they don’t fit the standards. Will those standards change? You can almost bet they will, and you should remain affixed to any news Google releases to ensure your ads always comply.

Ryan Gould is the Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, a B2B marketing agency. Ryan helps medium and large brands improve sales and market share by developing integrated marketing experiences distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion.

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