Chrome is Not Blocking Ads, Google is Working with Ad Industry

Posted on June 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 38 Comments

Chrome is Not Blocking Ads, Google is Working with Ad Industry

A horrific example of web advertising.

Back in April, I wrote that Google’s plans to block web ads in Chrome were not as far-reaching or consumer-friendly as reports suggested. Now, Google has confirmed this.

As you may recall, The Wall Street Journal claimed that Google was planning to add native ad-blocking functionality to its flagship Chrome web browser. It seemed incredible that Google, a company that makes over 90 percent of its revenues from ads, would make such a move.

But it was literally incredible: As I reported at the time, Google’s plans weren’t as exciting as the Journal suggested.

“Google’s integrated ad-blocker won’t block all advertising,” I wrote. “It will only block ‘unacceptable ad types’ as defined by the Coalition for Better Ads. That is, it will remove the most annoying ads, which include pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, prestitial countdown ads, and large sticky ads on PCs. (And different types of ads on mobile.)”

And that is exactly what they are doing.

This week, Google revealed that it will work with the Coalition for Better Ads to remove “annoying ad experiences.”

As the primary source of advertising on the Internet, Google will also work with advertisers to help them “improve ads for consumers” and stop them from “blocking all ads, [which] takes a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.”

Google is also working with advertisers on a “customized message to visitors using an ad blocker, inviting them to either enable ads on their site, or pay for a pass that removes all ads on that site through the new Google Contributor.”

Google is working hand-and-hand with the advertising industry, it’s biggest customer base. and Chrome will never really help you block ads. Instead, Google will help advertisers make more efficient and less annoying ads that consumers won’t feel compelled to block. This isn’t as altruistic as many would like to believe. And you will absolutely still want to use an ad-blocker with Chrome if you do so today.

 

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Comments (38)

38 responses to “Chrome is Not Blocking Ads, Google is Working with Ad Industry”

  1. MikeGalos

    So Google is blocking the types of ads they don't sell but their competitors do and thus will make it much less likely that you will install a full ad blocker that does block all ads including theirs.


    And is using their monopoly power in two related industries to do so.


    Seems like a pretty egregious abuse of monopoly power.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      That's not how I read it. They are blocking ads based on a standard set by an independent organization. Yes, Google depends on advertising, but it seems more like this approach is to help sites that depend on advertising in order to pay the bills (which I believe is most of them), but does not allow free-reign. What would be anti-competitive would be Chrome replacing all ads with Google's own ads, but that isn't what they are doing at all. There are no browser standards for ad blocking (only add-ons), but this sure likes the beginning of such a thing.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        That's not how "anti-competitive behavior" works.

        If you use your power as a monopoly to decrease the market for a competitor in another, related field that's abuse. You don't need to totally block a competitor to be abusive.

        Using Chrome to damage the sales of products that block ad business competitors' sales but not your own is clear abuse.

        • Waethorn

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          You're arguing for companies like someone that argues that Microsoft is competing with software pirates by charging too much. Give it up.

        • Jeff Jones

          In reply to MikeGalos:


          The difference is that Chrome isn't blocking competitors. It's only blocking ads that give a bad browsing experience, indiscriminately.

          The Coalition for Better Ads may have Google as a member (or even a founder), but its a coalition and actually has some of Google's competitors on board. There are a few dozen companies working together, and while they may all be interested in ads, they're main goal is to reduce the appeal of full site ad blockers.

          These companies see the big picture which is that ads are useful to the internet as a whole. It's in everyone's best interest to make ads that are tolerable and actually interesting for the viewer. Many sites would close down or their content would be half the quality if they relied solely on paying subscribers.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        The "Coalition for Better Ads" is NOT "an independent organization". Google is one of the companies that created it and runs it. It's an Internet advertising industry trade group created to promote internet advertising.

        Saying you trust them to set standards is like saying you trust the Beef Council to regulate the sale of meat.

        • Waethorn

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          You're just plain wrong Mike. The National IAB's from around the world make up the Coalition, and the original New York office for the IAB was started 2 whole years before Google was even founded.


          My question to you is: why isn't Microsoft part of the Coalition? After all, the IAB were the ones that criticized Microsoft for turning on Do Not Track by default, and Microsoft's actions were the ones that made advertisers ignore it and made it obsolete.

        • Darmok N Jalad

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          Well of course the largest advertising company in the world would be a member. And reading about why it was founded, it was because Google noticed the rise in ad blocking--a clear problem to an industry that lives off of advertising. So rather than shutting the door on everyone, they opened the door to advertisers that are willing to follow non-obtrusive standards. The companies outside the standard one could argue don't care about acceptable advertising and want to jam content in your face and bog down or crash your browser. Even then, if you don't agree with Google or their motives, don't use Chrome. I pretty much don't use any Google stuff, BTW.

    • Waethorn

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Nope. You're just plain wrong. The Acceptable Ads campaign is accepted by the Coalition for Better Ads, which consists of members from major advertising committees and foundations. Ad agencies that don't belong to one of the member committees are often of dubious business practises, so this is good for users. If you don't like it, that means you're only defending ad agencies that don't follow standard practises governed by major advertising committees and associations, some of which exist at federal levels, such as the ones listed here:


      https://www.betterads.org/members/

    • skane2600

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Perhaps the enthusiasm for anti-trust has waned once people realized that the only entities who benefited from MS's antitrust case were MS's competitors. Understandable given that competitors were the driving force behind the case, not consumers.

  2. chrisrut

    TINSTAAFL - "There is no such thing as a free lunch." It was so written on the wall of an exit-less cave in the text-based Adventure game eons ago... and equally true today.

    Nothing is "free" kids. Someone, somewhere, always has to balance the energy/effort accounts in the physical universe. Nothing "just happens." Laws of physics. Google, Apple, MS and the myriad others all maintain energy flows in order to persist. By using their services - agreeing to their terms - i.e. agreeing to the energy flow rules they state - we give them the warrant to continue.

    Google is interesting; they take your interests and combine that potential energy with the interests of countless others to propel the turbine of commerce - connecting advertisers with advertisees - as that potential energy becomes kinetic. A massive commerce engine fueled by self-interests... Fascinating.

  3. wunderbar

    I find that this is no different than popup blockers of 10-15 years ago. It is aiming to get rid of the worst parts of the web, not remove advertisements completely.


    And that is 100% fine.

    • Ezzy Black

      In reply to wunderbar:


      While I don't use Chrome, I'll take a wait-and-see attitude on this one. I didn't begin using an ad-blocker for malicious intent. I wasn't in any manner 'out to get' content providers. I did it because the ads were so horrible. Flashing, screaming, system, slowing, blaring ads were just to much; I'd had enough.


      Ars ran it's own ad a while back, or I should say it's own served ad. I applauded that. Wasn't blocked because it came from their own domain. You know what? Some didn't like it (I was kind of neutral about the ad itself), but darn it Ars was responsible for it. If it annoyed their user-base, they had to own it and that's why I liked the idea.


      So let's see how it works.

  4. SvenJ

    You know, I don't use an ad blocker. I understand that is how the sites I visit exist, or at least supplement their existence. Including this one. I also watch ads on free OTA TV. I am annoyed by pop over ads that completely block my access for a period of time, and the damn autoplay-with-sound ones that start after you have already scrolled past them over on the side. My response is to try to avoid those sites. I have installed an ad-blocker on Edge, but it has seemed to cause performance problems, and usually results in requests to not block by sites when you visit them, including this one, so I just accept the decent ads over on the right. I don't begrudge the content providers their compensation. If Google gets the ads to be more reasonable, that should benefit all of us on any browser.

  5. Jaxidian

    Paul took a very different spin than I expected on this. The way I see it, Google blocks all annoying ads equally whether they come from Google's network or a competitors. However, mind you, Google knows how to have its ads not blocked so the blocking will probably be 99% of competitors' ads and not Google's ads.


    Seems like a very competitive move that has nothing to do with users and everything to do with increasing market share.

  6. Minok

    As a firefox user thats good news as I hope it will lead to a killing off of that annoying crap.

    Yahoo Finance has become a cesspoole of auto-playing video (flash) adds that ignore the auto-play setting of the browser, just because and here's some indected ads in the market research stories on products you already purchased over the past 6 months.

  7. Nicholas Kathrein

    Yes, This is obvious. Advertising has been used since the advent of newspapers to to make the cost to consumers much lower so that information and entertainment can be veiwed by many many many more people then if there were no ads and only people who had the money to pay for the service could get it. Think back to newspapers. No ads would have ment most low income people wouldn't have been able to know what was happening in the world or even in their town. It would have created a huge divide between the have and have nots. This happened with free over the air tv as well.


    Now that it's moved online Google is doing the smart thing and raining in crappy advertising. Some is their fault and some are the sites fault as the crappier the ad the more it pays. I want rich and poor both to have access to the web. I want people to have jobs creating content on the web. Ads do that and do it for the 75 to 80 % of the worlds population who couldn't pay if they had to. I see no issue with this and would go with Google contributor where you give them say $10 a month and all the sites who joined get paid and I don't see the ads.

  8. GarethB

    Google obviously doesn't feel its ads are 'annoying', so in reality, in doing this it's promoting its ad network over others. From a purely business perspective it looks a little monopolistic. (Not that Chrome is a monopoly..) Of course as users, we definitely want annoying ads to go away - it's just what we consider annoying that might not always agree with the big G.

    How long will it be before Chrome supports a new HTML tag which signifies ad-supported content, where it can automatically block the content for people with ad blockers installed?


  9. dcdevito

    I'd love to see Apple block all ads in Safari. That'd scare Google to death

  10. John Scott

    I figured Google would not block its own ad customers in its browser. That would be like giving up revenue that affects your bottom line. I am sure Google would be happy to block ads from its competitors. I am sure litigation will come from this if Google doesn't back track on ad blocking. I do not mind ads, I know they pay for the sites but rather then working to block. How about working to make ads more accepting to users in the first place?

    • Waethorn

      In reply to John Scott:

      All of the legitimate advertisers are part of the Coalition for Better Ads - Google doesn't stand alone there, as they are among hundreds of other companies.

    • Jeff Jones

      In reply to John Scott:


      It kind of seems like you didn't even read the article. Your last sentence is basically what Google is trying to do; working to make ads more accepting to users. They plan to block only the unacceptable ads (defined by a published standard) and let all others through. Theoretically sites will conform to showing acceptable ads if they want the ads to be seen.

  11. Bats

    I didn't think that Google was working a way to block ALL Ads. After all, it needs those ads. "We" needs those ads. They help fund and advance, the latest technologies that we are experiencing today at no cost to the user.

    To be honest, I don't understand the type of ads that are being targeted. There is actually an auto-play video ad? I've never experienced that. That's terrible!

  12. Chris_Kez

    I don't want Google Contributor any more than I want Google's ad network. I'd rather pay content creators directly.

  13. Ugur

    Sure it's not altruistic, but if there are less super annoying type ads due to it in the future, i'll take it =)

  14. Daekar

    I install ad-blocking for everyone who relies on me for tech support, and they uniformly are over the moon for it. This is literally the only site that is on my whitelist. Google better do a bang up job on moderating ads, or this will be too little too late.

  15. rameshthanikodi

    I would be okay if Mozilla or some other organization did this, but with Google, it somehow feels like there's going to be a huge conflict of interest. I mean, I get that they're working with the Coalition, but still.

  16. anchovylover

    Surely this is a good thing for users. It serves Google's best interest to remove the ads we all despise. I personally would be much more likely to turn off my ad blocker if the ads were less obnoxious. Don't forget, this will be the starting point of this initiative and will improve over time. It seems like a potential way to improve revenue for sites.

  17. crfonseca

    So it Google going into the "approved" add business like some ad blocking extensions do?

    Google: Nice ad you got there... Be a shame if something happened to it...

    Advertiser: Here's some money!

    Google: See, that wasn't so hard, was it...

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