Google is joining the fight against harmful and intrusive website ads. The tech giant confirmed in a recent blog post that it will build and launch an ad blocker for the Chrome browser.
It’s ironic for a company that strongly relies on ad revenue to release a feature that could, in some ways, hamper its ability to generate money. According to Investopedia, advertising campaigns make up a staggering 96 percent of Google’s revenue, which in 2016 was an estimated $89 billion. Some analysts say it’s closer to 86 percent.
To preserve the company’s advertising earnings, the ad blocker will only remove the most annoying ads, including ones that force users to wait 10 to 15 seconds and pop-ups that come with loud music. Because of this, Google prefers to refer to the feature as an ad “filter.”
“These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads – taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president for ads and commerce.
To determine which ads will be blocked, the company is collaborating with the Coalition for Better Ads. The independent organization focuses on making the consumer experience with online ads less frustrating and more seamless. Google will rely on the group’s Better Ads Standards to gauge the level of intrusiveness for website ads.
“With these insights and the initial Better Ads Standards, the full marketing ecosystem can move forward together to pursue better-performing ad placements and enhanced customer experiences,” said Tom Benton, CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA).
It’s important to point out Google is a leading member of the organization, along with Facebook, The Washington Post and News Corp.
The company provides a link to a best practices guide for publishers in the blog post. The guidelines emphasize relevancy, immersion and fast loading times for optimized ad experiences. These criteria provide a glimpse of the type of ads consumers are likely to encounter after the release of the ad blocker, which is slated for early next year.
“It only takes a few seconds for people to decide whether your site is worth their time. Flashing animations and ads that play sound automatically distract people during those critical first few seconds and could lead them to abandon your site,” Google said in the guide.
“These experiences are extremely disruptive in both desktop and mobile web environments.”
Google is releasing a publisher’s tool to streamline compliance with the standards. All of this is very similar to the time the tech brand launched a mobile-friendly campaign in 2015. Google ended up tying the standard into its search engine ranking algorithms to maximize compliance.
Google’s announcement about the ad blocker received mixed feedback and opinions. Jason Kastrenakes from The Verge points out the new tool gives too much power and control to Google – since, as mentioned earlier, it is also part of the committee that creates the standards for intrusive ads. To keep everything fair, Google ads that are flagged by the filter will not be shown to users.
Others praise the company’s efforts to reduce spammy online ads. Ad blockers could help make website browsing faster and less of an uphill struggle for busy users.
For publishers, the launch of the feature is a huge wake-up call. With stricter ad optimization guidelines, some will be left with fewer monetization options. Considering that Chrome accounts for 54.15 percent of the browser market share for mobile devices and tablets, publishers will have to comply with the standards in order to keep ad revenue consistent.
The Chrome add-on will be available for both desktop and mobile versions of the browser.