Consumers agitated over the overuse of pop-up ads breathed a sigh of relief when Google announced the launch of an ad blocker for its Chrome web browser. This announcement has marketers questioning the approach and the power it would give Google. Currently, with Google and Facebook dominating the advertising industry, 89 percent of all digital revenue growth is attributed to them. Some experts and industry leaders are concerned about any move that would give these tech conglomerates even more power. Chrome is the most widely used browser in the world, with 45 percent coverage. According to the statement from Google, the ad blocker will be turned on by default and content that that does not conform to standards will be screened or flagged. But if a website consistently violates these standards, then the filter will then block all ads on the website. In addition to this, Google also announced a tool called Funding Choices that would allow publishers to ask viewers to disable the blockers or pay to view any more content, with Google getting a cut.
Industry experts responded by saying ‘Consumers dislike intrusive advertising, so a filter to weed out the unwanted is welcome. But, advertising, however, fuels a free internet, and the new Chrome extension is a conflict of interest. The age old attempts to write the rules of ad blocking and circumventing their own policies to ensure publishers are paid can be observed. Google is seen as writing the rules of what an intrusive ad is and setting up Google payment platform workarounds. With this extension, consumers can no longer dictate the rules to content. Certain publishers cannot be accessed without paying, unlike earlier. What marketers must learn from Google’s ad blocker is the importance of creativity in enticing consumers. Brands that understand their ideal customers will be able to pivot their ads to provide information with an educational utility.
Another industry veteran pointed a rise in in-app advertising. Budgets might change and the focus may shift due to the GoogleFilter. Once the feature is implemented, a majority of users would not rely on third party software to block ads. This would reduce Google’s dependency on third party software like Adblock Plus, resulting in significant revenue growth for Google. The ad blocker would not make an impact AdWords/DoubleClick display ads. The market share may grow as advertising platforms with borderline advertising practices may have to shut shop. While this is pro-consumer, it seems as if Google wants to increase its control on the industry.
On one hand, we can only celebrate the move to better and fewer ads. But the option to go ‘ad free’ requires users to pay on Google Play, and stay logged in to transact. As the internet grows into a huge jungle, how can anyone marginalise the open part?