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Google Chrome’s ad blocker comes under fire

Google acted against what it describes as ‘intrusive’ adverts, by launching its integrated ad blocker in its Chrome web browser late last week.

How does it work? It’s not the same as AdBlock, which blocks almost every ad, but instead it stops the very worst, most annoying ads. In short, Google’s browser will target and block advertisements which fail to follow the ‘Better Ads Standards’, itself the result of public consumer research by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group focused on improving users’ experience with online advertising.

Once Google determines that a site hosts unsuitable ads, its browser will block all ads on that site. It will do so by evaluating a sample set of pages, look for violations, and award the site either a ‘pass’, ‘warn’ or ‘fail’.

The general consensus to the move has been positive, with Techradar reflecting the opinion of many by stating, ‘this seems like a sound move overall, as not many people will argue against having those more frustrating and annoying ads blocked’. However, Techradar adds the important caveat that the policing of websites must be carried out accurately and with minimal red tape.

Veteran advertising commentator, Bob Hoffman, is more withering and likens Google’s move to Dracula guarding the bloodbank. Author of the popular Ad Contrarian blog, one of the world’s most influential advertising blogs, Hoffman states in his newsletter that ‘the whole enterprise can be interpreted as an attempt by Google to grab more ad dollars and protect its pals in the CBA’.

He continues, ‘Google’s integrity is so compromised in this endeavor that it is asking for big trouble. They are blocking auto-play video ads with sound except from their CBA partner Facebook. They are blocking pop-ups except from their CBA partner Bounce Exchange. Perhaps most egregious is that one of the web’s most despised ad formats, video pre-roll, is not being blocked at all. Pre-roll is one of YouTube’s most important assets. And guess who owns YouTube?’

It’s still too early to really judge the effect of Google’s Chrome ad blocker both on consumers and publishers. On the one hand, it can be deemed a worthy initiative to create higher quality ad standards across the board. On the other, it could be argued to be an effort that is seriously compromised in its execution. As Hoffman concludes, ‘Google is asking for trouble. I believe they’re going to get it.’