However, could it just be that Google is about to save the ad industry and publishers from themselves? Could Apple be playing its part too? Both have vowed that future version of their browsers, Chrome and Safari, will come equipped to filter out bad ads. A lot was said about ad blocking when their announcement were made a couple of weeks ago, but that doesn't seem to be the intention at all -- you'll still need to download an add-on to attempt to block all ads.
No, from what I've read -- including statements from the companies and their interpretation by industry insiders -- all that's going to happen is bad ads will be filtered out. It's a little like asking your browser to block pop ups and then all the annoying formats that have been developed since.
Why filter at the browser, some might ask? Can't we just go to decent sites that would never cover up their content with an ad? Well, the trouble is, even the so-called "good guys" are among the worst offenders.
Which brings me to my favourite gripe, autoplay video ads. Just about every tabloid does these, but I've also be known to search around a broadsheet site looking for the offending video. Publishers have become very adept at hiding where they are. The Express, you can take a bow here on my podium of villains. Honestly, just try going to the paper's site, open a few windows and then try to find out where on each page lies the autoplay ad that's just drowned out any conversation office colleagues are trying to have around you.
The important thing is we have the Coalition for Better Ads and the WFA's Project Reconnect, which are looking at the most annoying types of advertising so publishers can be advised to stop offering them or, as we now see happening, browsers can be rolled out that block them.
This is a better solution than downloading an ad blocker and whitelisting companies you trust, or publishers paying to appear on a pre-set whitelist. Tackling bad ads at the browser level allows business to go on as usual with decent ads allowed through. It's a little like having security on the door, scanning for prohibited items, so the party can go inside more safely.
So in this instance, I think Google and Apple are undoubtedly helping to save the digital marketing and media industries from rogue operators, but most importantly, from themselves.
Ad-blocker growth rates are slowing down as overall user numbers begin to plateau, so we have clearly reached a point at which those who would consider blocking may be put off by the hassle of downloading a browser add-on or are put off by the likelihood it will curtail how much content they can view.
So the beast we're fighting is showing signs of tiring by taking away even more of its power, by preventing people from getting so fed up with ads they block, we can only inch closer to victory.
I'm not sure I get how Google and Apple are saving "the ad industry", Sean, if by ad industry you mean the advertisers. What they are trying to do is remove a grating stumbling block which hinders the ad sellers and scares away advertisers, with self-interest being a major motivation. One might argue that digital media---despite its many, many self-created issues---is so vital to advertising success that the fact that a small percfentage of ads are placed adjacent to "offensive" material could cause most or all advertisers to abandon the digital medium entirely---but that is very hard to believe. Even if it were the case, I suspect that most advertisers will scontinue to use non-digital media with whatever success their skill at crafting ad messages and media buying affords them. After all, despite the widely publicized "ad spending" tallies showing to gillible innocents that digital has "surpassed" traditional media and, especially TV, the reality is that a typical TV branding advertiser alocates only 5-10% of his/her media budget to digital, not 75-90%----so we can rest easy. No matter how the problem of "offensive content" is dealt with by digital ad sellers, the branding advertising business will soldier on and is not endangered by this nasty, but small, irritant.
Chrome has greater than 50% share of the browser market. This is clearly a move to squeeze out the other networks. Otherwise, why wouldn't Google just use user on-page behaviour to penalise publishers that displayed annoying ads? By focusing on the user it trains publishers to steer away from annoying and disruptive ads.
One thing for sure, Google will continue to attack other ad networks that threaten their market share. Advertisers should aim to create a strong Google strategy. I created this cost-per-click estimator to help businesses get started with their Google ad strategy: Google cost-per-click estimator