Google has thrown another wrench at ad agencies and content creators! And while it can be annoying when Google starts changing things, it also leads to some great discussion. So let's take a look at the latest announcement: Google is building its own ad blocker.
Ad blockers are already trouble enough on their own. While incredibly useful to busy internet consumers, they are also troubling to brands (who risk their expensive ads getting erased and ignored) and ad agencies (who make money selling those expensive ads). Ad blockers are growing incredibly common as well, which is one of the factors pushing more marketers toward native advertising. But now Google has come along and apparently endorsed blockers everywhere by declaring it is creating a special Google ad blocker. What does this mean? Should anyone panic? Let's break it down.
The Change is Only Coming to Chrome, For Now
The ad blocker will not be directly connected to the Google search engine – instead, it will be only be coming to Chrome, Google's own web browser. It will be built directly into Chrome, not available as an extension, so when the blocker comes (right now it is slated for 2018) it will be added in an automatic update, not something that people have to seek out.
This poses the question: How much does my industry depend on Chrome? Edge, Firefox, and other browsers will continue to act as before, with their own third-party ad blockers available but nothing built in. If few people use Chrome in your world, the impact may be minimal. But if Chrome is very popular among your customers and partners, it's time to pay attention.
Google Doesn't Want to "Ban" Ads
Google's ad blocker is...unusual. The goal is not to remove all ads from websites, unlike popular apps like Adblocker Plus. Google is fine with internet ads, and understands that they are an important part of the ecosystem. So what's the deal? Google is trying to control the types of ads that appear online. And like its updates to content and link requirements, Google's goal is to make the internet a more friendly, informative place for users.
The Google adblocker will be using the Initial Better Ads Standards as a basis for blocking ads that it does not think are appropriate. That means it will focus on banning the sort of ads that you probably find annoying, including pop-up ads, autoplay videos, weird sticky ads that follow you around, and more.
Google is Actively Fighting Other Ad Blockers
The Google ad blocker isn't just about getting rid of ads, it's about creating a replacement for today's ad blockers that will make everyone happier. Google is trying to enforce a middle of the road strategy – allowing some ad representation, but (attempting to) remove the need to download a separate ad blocker that kills all ads. This would presumably discourage other things like whitelisting sites, sites that block you if you have an ad blocker, and similar issues.
Ad Agencies Face a Reckoning
It's no surprise that this news is especially bad for the ad agency industry, which has been trying to walk the tightrope of "selling all types of ads possible without repercussions" for quite some time. Over the past several years it has become clear that this model needs to be replaced, but many small and medium-sized businesses don't really understand how to buy or sell ad space, especially when the process becomes largely automated. Google is essentially stepping in with an ultimatum: Change the type of ads you work with, or else there really will be consequences.
Consumer-Focused Ad Content is Becoming More Important
Native advertising, tasteful banner ads, polite ad spots on social media – these appear to be the future of advertising, and that's good news! It encourages more thoughtful, high-quality ads that seek to impress viewers with substance instead of flash, and that's something we can get behind.
Ultimately, a Lot Depends on Chrome Users
Will Chrome users enjoy the new ad blocker? Will they keep using their old full ad blockers and never really notice the change? Their response will be key in forming the future of internet advertising, so come 2018 everyone will be interested to here what they have to say.