Google's Chrome ad blocker, which goes into effect on Thursday, will block all ads served on sites that receive a failure notice if the publisher doesn't comply with the Better Ads Standards within 30 days.
Depending on the number of violations found, the site will be evaluated based on Passing, Warning or Failing grades. One bad ad will not start the filtering, according to Kelsey LeBeau, who heads publisher partnerships at Google. The site must be a repeat offender. The technology, however, will block ads that comply and do not meet the standards if the publisher fails to comply.
It is not technically impossible to block only the ads that do not comply -- but it is extremely difficult, so for now the platform blocks all ads. Chrome’s ad filter will first check whether that page belongs to a site that fails the Better Ads Standards. If so, network requests on the page are checked against a list of known ad-related URL patterns. If there is a match, Chrome will block the request, preventing the ad from displaying on the page. The patterns are based on the public EasyList filter rules, and include patterns that match for Google’s AdSense and DoubleClick.
LeBeau has been working on the past two years with challenges based on ad blocking. Her focus is twofold: to reduce the demand for blockers that do not discriminate in terms of who is serving the ad by improving the site visitor's experience, and how to win back users who have installed ad blockers.
The detail of "all" ads, which is buried in Wednesday's blog post from Google, may be the most significant and overlooked nuance of the announcement. The status of the evaluation will post in the Ad Experience Report.
Today, the Better Ads Standards from the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group focused on improving the user experience with online advertising, consists of 12 ad experiences that research found to be annoying to users, such as pop-up ads, autoplay ads with sound, flashing animation, and those with a countdown where visitors must wait to access the site.
LeBeau also confirmed earlier reports that less than 1% of publishers will be affected by filtered ads because increasingly, publishers are stepping up to make the changes on their own.
LeBeau said this shift is more about monetizing the web for a better experience. Even if Google's ads are against the Better Ads Standards, it doesn't matter because Chrome removes all ads, good and bad, if they're found to have repeated violations.
Not all agree on Google's vision. Industry chatter suggests that the Chrome ad blocker is less about improving the browsing experience and more about what benefits Google's top line.
"If you’re looking for motivation behind the Google Chrome built-in ad blocker, it’s less about improving the browsing experience for users and more about forcing publishers and advertisers towards ad standards that benefit Google," wrote Ghostery’s Director of Product Jeremy Tillman in an email to Publishers Daily. "The fact that it is threatening to block all ads on pages that fail to meet its standards within 30 days seems like an obvious ploy to move more publishers to Google’s advertising platforms, which relies on deep and exhaustive data collection that Google has no incentive to curb."
Tillman called the Chrome feature less of an ad blocker and more of an "enforcer."
The advertising and publishing communities need to add more value to consumers and brands, which was a huge theme at this week's Interactive Advertising Bureau Leadership Conference in Palm Desert, California.
Even so, whether or not publishers make this change should be a choice, said Rich Kahn, CEO and co-founder, eZanga, this may be an attempt to give users a better experience, but it should not be something forced on website owners and users.
One of the biggest challenges: Technology is bringing an end to the “forced viewing economy,” said Ed Montes, CRO at Dataxu.
"Generational shifts are greatly changing the acceptance of advertising," Montes said. "You need to look no further than the growth of Netflix and the willingness to pay for ad free content. Sadly, this has some very disturbing consequences to those, the vast majority of the world, who can’t afford ad free content."
A well-considered article, Laurie. Savvy consumers know there is no free lunch, but they will continue to use Adblock Plus and AdBlock and Brave to keep the pressure on advertisers and publishers to put aside their industry bickering and make a better ad experience.