Google's New Ad Blocker

Lift Letter by TripleLift VP of Publisher Partnerships, Michael Lehman

You've likely seen a number of articles about Google's new ad blocker for Chrome that's slated to be released in 2018. This is an important release with a number of interesting implications, so I wanted to send a simple write-up and some general thoughts around.

Overview

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Google just announced a new ad blocking feature that, starting in 2018, will come installed on all Chrome mobile and desktop browsers.  The ad blocker will filter out "annoying" ads, as identified by the coalition for better ad standards - ie, auto audio ads, shaky/flashy, countdown ads, etc. 

Additionally and perhaps more importantly, Google is releasing a feature called "Funding Choices", which will present Chrome users who have 3rd party ad blockers installed with the choice of either a) whitelisting the site so that, per Chrome's Adblocker, only respectable ads show; or b) pay a fee to access the website (which Google will split with the publisher).  

What Does it Mean?

Publishers

  • You can potentially interpret this a few ways for publishers:
    • Why it's good: This is a win for load time, user experience, and ultimately the publishers user base, which should help traffic levels and organic performance of respectful ads.  Also, the funding choices release will likely reduce 3rd party ad blocking use, which will help publishers recoup some of the lost money from ad blocking or start receiving subscription fees. 
    • Why it's bad: Annoying ads do pay high CPMs (usually) and, for many pubs, represent a chunk of revenue. Considering Chrome is used by 50% of online users, publishers will lose this money in the short term. In the long term, the argument could be made that that budget will be recirculated to more respectful advertising and organic performance and spend levels of non-disruptive ads will organically improve.

Google

  • Power move by Google. Beyond threatening the Adblocking industry, Google sits on the Coalition for better ads and has helped define what constitutes acceptable advertising.  With this move, they will be making life VERY hard for some competitors and expanding their already enormous ownership of publisher monetization.

Tech companies that generate "annoying ads"

  • MAJOR challenge for obvious reasons

Ad Blockers

  • Life just got hard if you're an adblocking company. Chrome is the browser of choice for approximately 50% of global internet users and users are going to be forced to whitelist sites or pay a fee.  Adblock companies are saying that since the Chrome feature only blocks ads it deems as "annoying", users will still want the ability to block all ads and this will not affect adoption.  Time will tell is that ends up being an accurate assessment, although it feels like a stretch. 


Other thoughts

There is definitely an argument to be made that Google is flexing it's muscle as a monopoly - being a key decision-maker on the council that defines what ads are acceptable, controlling the browser AND giving it's own ads preferential treatment - but there is a lot here that could benefit the industry in the long run.  Anyone who works at TripleLift is in agreement that highly disruptive ads are not beneficial for anyone, despite the short term revenue they generate. This move towards respectful advertising and funding choices will improve user experience and organic performance of respectful ads, reduce the use of ad blockers, open up a new channel of publishers being compensated for their content, and pave the way for a brighter future for respectful ads (in particular native!). 

Now, we'll see how many users change their browser use when confronted with the Funding Choices question, but this is a step towards cleaning up the digital marketplace - a known objective for publishers and marketers alike!