Industry POV

Google Ad Blocker Creates Ripples in the Digital Advertising Space

16 Feb 2018

Starting February 15, Google will debut its inbuilt ad blocker for Chrome that will banish most “annoying ads” from web-pages and deliver a cleaner web experience.

Chrome has more than 50% share of the web-browser market and it lays down the ground rules for display ads on the internet. Display advertising which has so far mimicked in-your-face offline advertising is all set to get a rigorous shakedown and overhaul.

Google  blocker won’t be removing all ads — just ones that are considered bad using standards determined by the Coalition for Better Ads, which bans things like full page ads, ads with auto playing sound and video, and flashing ads.

This bold move by Google will result in a decline in ad inventory and consequently ad revenue loss for those publishers who have been displaying annoying ads. According to some conservative estimates by industry experts, 10-15% of ads served on websites could be filtered out following the complete roll-out of the Chrome ad blocker.

Google says that the goal of the program is to help publishers by weeding out bad ads across the internet, which could cut down on users with blanket ad blockers. But it’s worth reiterating that the program will also give Google even more power over internet advertising than the prodigious amount it already possesses.

Speaking on the implications of the step taken by Google starting 15th February, Digital marketers and advertisers, the most anticipated sector to get impacted spoke what they think will or not change in the scenario. A rather positive Rohan Mehta, Co-Founder and CEO, Social Kinnect said, “Google Ad Blocker is a great step in the direction of improving user experience and increasing the quality of output that an advertiser gets. It's important to note that 'all impressions are not good impressions' there are loads of websites online that violate ad guidelines thereby impacting the user experience which in turn has a negative rub off on the brand. Google ad blocker is built with an aim to block such ads, therefore it might impact the absolute number of impressions that gets served in the same budget but the user attention and final output of the media campaign would be more beneficial for the advertiser.”

Rubeena Singh, CEO, iProspect India believes that, “The move by Google will be appreciated by users as it ensures a better user experience. For publishers, it will mean stricter ad checks and in the short term their revenues are likely to take a hit. However, advertisers in general will receive more quality traffic now, so the performance is expected to improve. As that happens, monetisation will also improve."

Supporting the concept behind Google Ad Blocker, Chetan Asher, Founder and CEO, Tonic Worldwide commented that, “Google Ad blocker is not going to block out all advertising, but only the ads that don't comply with standards. We all can agree that certain ad formats are annoying and mar the experience for the user, it's best that they are controlled. The ad blocker will lead to advertisers, publishers and the entire ecosystem to create ads that are meaningful and compliment the browsing experience.”

Andesh Bhatti, Founder and CEO, Collectcent added that, "We know that the challenge for marketers is standing out in a world of consumers’ shorter attention span – so this new ad-blocker is no surprise as the coalition responds to what consumers tell them about annoying ads. The answer for brands is obvious: targeting and personalization. What consumers want and what will drive better results for brands is ensuring that you reach the right people, with the right message at the right time. Yes be impactful but being smarter is even better.”

The big question: Are we ready for this?

However, pointing to the flip side of the coin, Manish Maheshwari, CEO, Network18 Digital, feels that, “Rather than Google deciding to block the ads, let the users decide which ads they want to see. We need to give the users the choice of the ads, so we need to create a mechanism so that the conversation in interest and disinterest happens in the times when user decides the choice of his ads and the publishers should take cognizance of it.”

Explaining his point of view, he also added that, “Today rather than Google literally blocking an ad, if they create a platform through which the interest is indicated and publishers can adjust to it would be a better solution rather than simply blocking the ad as essentially ads are funding the content on the free internet for the publishers. The moment you take out the ads, there is no other revenue model which is so large scale or so entrenched in the eco-system. So, in my opinion this step seems like derailing the fundamental economics of a free internet.”

Raising a pertinent question from the publishers’ side of the coin he asked that, “Are we ready for that? Eventually, the bigger publishers who have multiple sources of revenue will survive but smaller ones with lesser options of revenue generation, their business model will get completely impacted. But fundamentally, the control should be with the users and Google shouldn’t be deciding for the users and the publishers should adjust the choice of the users so that they can appropriately address that.”

What fate does this feature from Google brings in for the marketers, the advertisers and the users, is open to anticipation and only to be experienced before forming a conclusion.