The announcement of Google Chrome’s ad-blocker, or ‘ad filter’ as they refer to it, has been met with a combination of praise and suspicion.
The ambition of the Coalition for Better Ads – of which Google is a member – to reduce the number of intrusive, poor quality advertisements should be applauded. This will benefit users who are becoming increasingly frustrated with a disruptive and slow browsing experience.
Those suspicious of Google’s actions, view the move as a further extension of their power in the advertising space, “a cartel orchestrated by Google” said Mark Patterson, a Fordham legal scholar. Therefore, the question must be asked: “should the role of ad-blocking be carried out by the world’s largest, and most profitable ad revenue generating business?” Probably not.
How does it work?
The product itself will be a pre-installed ad-blocker within browser that automatically blocks pop-ups, flashing ads, large format sticky ads and other intrusive formats. In addition, users with other third-party ad-blockers installed are required to whitelists sites (through Google approved ads), or pay for the content (a service called Funding Choices), of which the publisher will receive a payment and Google will also receive a portion of the money.
In the content space, Google has been evaluating sites for years via its PageRank algorithm, which penalises slow loading websites or advertising that outweighs content. The algorithm not only promises users can find better quality sites, but also incentivises publishers to improve their websites. By applying the same rules to advertising, Google is attempting to improve the user ad experience and encourage publishers to remove poor quality ads. However, the key difference is the conflict of interest Google have in the advertising space, potentially becoming the “de facto” filter for competitor ads.