It’s a widely known fact in the industry that ad blockers exist and are available to everyone. But what happens to those in the advertising industry when ad blocking becomes automated?
Related: Five things to know about the latest changes from Google Adwords
Recently, a Wall Street Journal article broke the news that Google plans on creating its own ad-blocking software to be incorporated within the Google Chrome browser. Initial thoughts — Google is a walking oxymoron…but deeper digging into the article, it made sense. Google is trying to monopolize the ad game.
Google’s “predicted” version of this ad blocker is aimed to filter out certain ad experiences that provide a bad user experience in line with the Coalition for Better Ads. These ad types include pop-ups, auto-playing video that includes sound, and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers.
Google’s “predicted” ad blocker is aimed to filter out certain ads that provide a bad user experience.
One theory from a Digital Trends article offers the idea that Google is looking to see how it can get a piece of the ad-blocking pie, while still being able to serve its own ads through platforms such as Google search and shopping, the Google Display network, and YouTube, all of which Google owns. If Google were to theoretically whitelist its own ads, this could monopolize the internet ad industry. Right now, Chrome users comprise nearly half of the browser market across all platforms/devices. So should advertisers be concerned just yet?
Yes, it is going to be very important to keep an eye on this developing story with Google. However, it should be noted that Google is just one piece of a larger puzzle that needs to be monitored. A combined effort from Princeton & Stanford University research groups are also out to make an ad blocker — but with even more capabilities on their agenda.
According to an article from the Motherboard blog on Vice, this new ad blocker does not read scripts or code to block ads on page loads. Instead, it uses computer vision, or “perceptual ad blocking” as the team calls it, to block ads. This blocker can detect native placements, Facebook ads, and other ad types that were previously not blockable by technologies. The impact this could have seems astronomical for advertisers and publishers, even for the big players like Facebook and Instagram.
Again, not quite time to panic…yet. The perceptual ad blocker is available as a proof of concept in Chrome, but is not fully functional. It will detect and identify the ads, but will not block them. “To avoid taking sides on the ethics of ad-blocking, we have deliberately stopped short of making our proof-of-concept tool fully functional — it is configured to detect ads but not actually block them,” said Arvind Narayanan, one of the ad blocker’s software developers.
By placing ads that are relevant and, in the end, ultimately help the user, advertising will stay relevant.
While these technologies could significantly impact advertising, remember nothing is set in stone. Also, by placing ads that are relevant and, in the end, ultimately help the user, advertising will stay relevant. Flash ads are the perfect example of ad blockers taking a stance on something that is obtrusive to consumers. Advertisers then adapted with HTML5, more genuine native content, video, and more.
While the future of ad blocking may seem like a monopolistic battleground, we anticipate federal regulation and publisher push-back will prevent these ad blockers from going gangbusters.
Alas, stay tuned.