Following months of speculation, analysis and debate, Google’s “ad-blocking version” of its internet Chrome browser has finally arrived today (February 15) on mobile and desktop.
First announced by the tech giant in April last year, Google’s ad-blocking feature - set by default - will filter out intrusive ads deemed to interrupt the user experience online as well as those not conforming to the Coalition for Better Ads standards. The company has steadily been preparing this roll out over the months, updating its Ad Settings and Muting functionalities in an effort to give users more control over the ads they see.
For publishers that rely on online ads as a source of revenue, this update which was a concern at first is supposedly going to impact just 1% of publishers, with efforts made towards compliance taken into consideration in a slightly more lenient vetting process than first imagined.
How it works
Following its test report in analysing ads across 100,000 websites in North America and Europe in June last year, the updated Chrome browser will evaluate websites based on a particular page and whether that page is serving any of the offending ad categories. On mobile, these include countdown ads, flashing or animated ads, and sticky ads, while larger variants on desktop will be checked.
Such ads existing on a webpage are flagged with a status score of “Passing”, “Warning” and “Failing”. Sites that fail to pass will be notified by Google and reviewed in their Ad Experience Report on what needs to be changed. If the website fails to comply within 30 days from notice and make the suggested changes, Google will block the ads by default. Publishers will have the ability to view results and request a re-review after addressing the non-compliant ads on their website.
From a user experience perspective, the ad-blocking browser will check ads on a webpage in violation of the advertising standards against a list of known ad-related URL patterns - based on Easylist filtering rules. If there is a match, the browser will block the request, thus preventing the ad from displaying on the webpage.
Users browsing on Chrome will receive a message stating that ad-blocking has taken place with them having the option to disable it by clicking “allow ads on this site”. For mobile and desktop, the notification will look similar to Chrome’s existing pop-up blocker.
Verdict for publishers?
The important thing to highlight from this update is that this will not block all ads entirely. The ad-blocking Chrome browser is a filter that will monitor and remove the most annoying ads from a website to improve the online viewing experience.
So for publishers who run ads on their websites, this shouldn’t stop them from doing that; it will serve more like a quality check, ensuring that all ads running on websites must comply with the rules. This could possibly mean a change of attitude or strategy from publishers to offer better ads with value to both the users and the websites.
“Publishers have had time to prepare for this much-needed update to Google Chrome, and it will only be those that continue to intentionally run bad ads that are likely to see their revenue decline dramatically,” said Alex McIIvenny, UK Country Manager at native advertising solutions agency Ligatus.
Overall the outlook is generally positive with McIlvenny adding that the ad-blocking filter “can only be seen as a good thing”, while the impact on publishers, in the long run, will be minimal, according to PubGalaxy’s chief commercial officer Matt Hammond.
"Disruptive and annoying ads were the reason ad blockers were launched in the first place, and we must concede as an industry that this provided a necessary catalyst for us to reevaluate our methods and focus on the user experience.” said Hammond.