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Over the past six weeks, multiple reports and rumors have hinted that Google is building an ad blocker into its Chrome browser. The company today set the record straight regarding its plans, which are not quite what the speculation suggested.
Google has joined the Coalition for Better Ads, a group that offers specific standards for how the industry should improve ads for consumers — full-page ad interstitials, ads that unexpectedly play sound, and flashing ads are all banned. Chrome will stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards “starting in early 2018.”
In other words, Google will use Chrome to cut off ad revenue from websites that serve low-quality ads, as deemed by the aforementioned standards. That means the browser’s built-in ad blocker will be taking an all-or-nothing approach: All ads blocked if one ad doesn’t follow the standards or all ads allowed if all the ads follow the standards.
The hope is that this will stymie the usage of add-ons and extensions that block all ads outright. Google acknowledges that this kind of ad blocker hurts publishers that create free content (like VentureBeat) “and threatens the sustainability of the web ecosystem.” Interestingly, despite the fact that Google makes the vast majority of its revenue from ads, the company says it sees this type of selective browser ad blocker as the natural evolution of pop-up blockers.
But the Chrome ad blocker coming next year isn’t the only thing Google is doing. The company is also launching the Ad Experience Report, a tool that provides screenshots and videos of annoying ad experiences to help sites find and fix issues. Developers can re-submit their site for review once the problematic ad experiences have been addressed. For a full list of ads to use instead, Google recommends that publishers visit its new best practices guide.
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