When Google introduced its Chrome Ad Blocker earlier this month, many wondered what the ramifications would be. Publishing Insider talked to Chris Loretto, executive vice president, Adtaxi, about the possible benefits of the new ad requirements for consumers and advertisers, alike.
PI: Before the Chrome Ad Blocker launched, there was a lot of anxiety coming from the media and publishers about what it could mean for the industry. In the end, Google stated only about 1% of websites would be affected. Were the fears overblown? How do you feel about the roll out?
CL: Like most shifts in the industry, the impact wasn’t as great as feared. Ultimately, this was about addressing a finite number of ad executions that created a negative experience for users, which was not a great undertaking. In Digital First Media’s case, we had already addressed the majority of potential violations, so outside of addressing specific concerns with our advertising partners, the work needed to become compliant wasn’t a huge undertaking.
Mass rollouts can be tough, and there is always room for improvement. It’s also tough to be in a situation where changes are being imposed, especially when the guidelines are somewhat opaque and the penalties severe. There are changes publishers need to address to ensure we’re thinking about the longer-term implications of site management. If this helps us to steer in the right direction, it’s welcome.
PI: Will Google's Ad Blocker benefit advertisers and publishers?
CL: The goal of the ad blocker is, ironically, to avoid ad blocking. The ad experience can be a very seamless part of your browsing experience, and when used correctly, can add value. While it may be too early to evaluate the results of this initiative, reducing ads that create friction with our users makes logical sense in reducing the need to leverage ad blockers.
Ideally, it will improve key metrics like time on site and brand loyalty.
PI: Do you see any issue with a tech giant like Google essentially regulating the digital advertising industry, given the sheer power and popularity of its browser?
CL: It’s not ideal, and there are arguments against that use of power. While the initiative seems well-intended, in a perfect world the overall management of it might have been more collaborative. However, as noted, for publishers like Digital First Media, which had been proactively managing the ad experience on our sites, making tweaks to ensure compliance was not a tremendous challenge.
PI: How might the new regulations benefit the relationship between consumers and publishers?
CL: Ultimately, with a renewed focus on improved ad executions that don’t irritate our users, there may be an extended benefit to advertising clients. Publishers need to monetize their websites, and it’s a competitive market. But it makes sense that the key to a long-term strategy would depend on a balanced ecosystem, where the user experience and the ad experience are weighted appropriately.