Without a doubt, Google Chrome is the most used web browser. So, when Google brings a change to a piece of software that is used to access the internet, this change will be widespread. Google Chrome received an update that had an ad blocker built into it and turned on by default. That seems pretty ironic since a large part of Google’s revenue comes from advertisements only.
Google is targeting “some” ads only
However, when it comes to advertising on the internet, they come in a lot of variants. There’s the simple and harmless ad that sits beside your web page content, showing you something else that you might be interested in. Your interest is continuously tracked on the internet and hence, if you search on Amazon for shoes, you also see shoes on Facebook and Instagram and pretty much everywhere else. The advertisements you see tell a lot about you. It is a little creepy, but then again, these ads are a lot better than the other kind.
There are some ads that automatically start playing audio and video, some ads block your entire page and would not go away until a certain amount of time has passed. Some ads even try to mislead you into installing malware on your PC or phone. These ads, rather malicious ads, are violating the guidelines that Google has set for their advertisers. Now, Google is taking a step to blacklist these violators.
Google’s ad blocker is a lot different from most other ad blockers. Google’s ad blockers will still display ads. But it will only display those ads that are not annoying. Despite the hype, the number of sites Chrome will actually block ads on turns out to be quite small. Of the 100,000 most popular sites in North America and Europe, fewer than one percent violate the guidelines Google uses to decide whether to filter ads on a site.
How it’s affecting the web
However, this move by Google has already affected the web. A lot of advertisers who were posting annoying ads to generate more traffic are turning around. The company notified sites in advance that they would be subject to the filtering, and 42 percent made preemptive changes. Again, Google will only block ads that are served via Google’s ad network and not any other network. Google decided to take this step since the annoying ads encourage users to install third-party ad blocker that is really aggressive in filtering page content. This, in the long run, hurts both Google and the advertisers.
A survey published by the industry group Interactive Advertising Bureau in 2016 found that about 26 percent of web users had installed ad-blockers on their computers, and about 15 percent had ad-blockers on their smartphones. Respondents gave a variety of reasons for blocking ads, including privacy concerns, page load times, and visual clutter.
The new Chrome ad-filtering feature doesn’t directly address privacy or page speed. Instead, it focuses only on blocking ads that violate guidelines published by the Coalition for Better Advertising, a group that includes advertising companies, publishers, and tech companies. The group surveyed 25,000 users in North America and Europe to find out what ads they find most annoying and used the results to craft a set of guidelines called the Better Ads Standards.
But it’s unclear whether disappearing only the most annoying one percent of ads on the web will stop people from installing ad-blockers—let alone win back people who already use them—if other irritating practices continue, and users still worry about privacy and security.
Ads are still the only clean way to make money
So, in case you think that Google is being altruistic and truly wants a cleaner internet, then you are wrong. Google is simply cleaning the house here, something it should have done long ago. However, since a lot of people use Google’s browser, one can expect advertising revenue to drop massively if the advertisers do not adhere to the guidelines.
But then again, without advertising, the web won’t offer so much content for free. This is where the user’s altruism comes into play. Yes, adblockers allow faster page loads, provides us with cleaner web pages, but then again, we have to allow those who make a living out of it to do so. Most ad blockers allow whitelisting websites. Some also contain filters that unblock unobtrusive ads. So, you can still use adblockers to block annoying ads while letting the good guys made a living out of it.
Without a doubt, advertising is always annoying. But it allows people to make a living. Major web browsers have long blocked ads that open new browser windows. The end of those “pop-up” and “pop-under” ads was a blessing. But it didn’t stop new forms of aggravating ads from proliferating. Getting rid of talking ads and countdowns would be great. Truly cleaning up the advertising ecosystem will take time.