Google’s ad blocker
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Publishers and advertisers faced a shock last year when Google announced a built-in ad blocker was coming to its popular Chrome browser.
The feature, developed with the Coalition for Better Ads and set to roll out on 15 February, will automatically block desktop and mobile advertising that’s considered intrusive to user experience. This includes auto-play videos with sound, full-page ads, pop-ups, ads that force you to sit through a countdown before viewing the content, and more. If even one single ad on a site doesn’t meet the new standards, all ads (yes, even those powered by Google) on the site will be blocked.
Google’s ad-blocking version of Chrome is going live next month, whether publishers are ready for it or not.
Publishers initially expressed fear when news of Chrome’s ad blocker broke last April. Premium publishers now publicly embrace the initiative because they think it will pressure competitors with a bad user experience to clean up their sites. But privately, it’s a different story.
“We still have anxiety with it,” said an executive at a legacy news publisher, speaking anonymously. “People got used to the model of loading the site with ads and driving pageviews, but Google is telling us we need to prioritize digital experience now. It is distressing, but they are Goliath, and I don’t feel like throwing stones at them.”
Google created an Ad Experience Report to help publishers see if their sites would fail its forthcoming standards. One issue is that warnings for having bad ads can linger in Google’s tool even after a publisher fixes the problem. One of the sites this exec oversees got flagged for having sticky video ads run in the upper right corner of the screen. The site removed the ads, but the warning label persisted in Google’s publicly available tool for several months.