In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google was going to introduce an ad blocker into Chrome. On Thursday, the publication confirmed the earlier report and said Google has put publishers on notice that the ad blocker is coming within six months to give them time to prepare.
Chrome’s ad blocker will reportedly be turned on by default on both desktop and mobile web versions. The move appears to be a strong-arm tactic to improve the quality and performance of ads across the web.
According to the Journal’s report, Google will inform publishers of poor ad experiences on their sites and instructions on how to fix any issues:
To help publishers prepare, Google will provide a self-service tool called “Ad Experience Reports,” which will alert them to offending ads on their sites and explain how to fix the issues. The tool will be provided before the Chrome ad blocker goes live, the people familiar with the plans say . . . Unacceptable ad types include those identified by the Coalition for Better Ads…
Think of it as an ad quality score for publishers.
The report says that Chrome will block all advertising on sites that cross some threshold of unacceptable advertising. Prohibited ad types are those laid out by the Coalition for Better Ads, of which Google is a member. The following graphic reflects the Coalition’s list of unacceptable units for mobile devices.
Non-compliant publishers will see ads on their sites blocked and revenues adversely impacted. While this is clearly a self-interested move on Google’s part, it’s also a move that could improve the overall state of digital advertising and lead to less consumer antagonism toward online ads. Ad blocking is a growing problem, with varying levels of blocking going on around the world.
A recent report from AdBlock Plus found that 40 percent of PC owners in the US said they had used an ad blocker in the past month. That compares with 15 percent for mobile users. This translates into billions of dollars in lost impressions and clicks. Google’s initiative could preempt the use of third-party ad-blocking software.
Assuming it comes to pass, the move will undoubtedly upset some publishers and could even trigger litigation. Chrome is the world’s most widely used browser, with 48 percent market share in North America and 54 percent globally.