Google and Chrome take steps to give us a better internet experience
Exposure to advertising on the internet is par for the course for anyone spending any time online and it’s big business. If you see an advert anywhere while browsing, somebody, somewhere is having to pay someone else for it being there.
Your eyeballs generate a lot of revenue and there’s money to be made putting things in front of them, but there’s a difference between making you look by catching your attention and forcing you to look by deliberately getting in your way.
Google have taken a stand against advertisers whose efforts fall into the latter ‘disruptive advertising’ category, by updating Chrome, the Google owned browser used by 56% of web users, so that offending ads are filtered out as standard.
Chrome started blocking ads which were found to breach this guidance on the 15th of February. Offending advertisers, however, were given fair warning of up to six months beforehand, so any online marketers who found their ads being filtered shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, over 40% of adverts which prompted a warning during this period were fixed long before the Chrome filters went live.
As guidance for what constitutes a disruptive ad, Google are using the ‘Initial Better Ads Standards’ as espoused by ‘The Coalition for better ads’ which list the least preferred ad experiences for desktop and mobile web. Ads which have any of the following features are likely to be blocked.
- Pop up ads
- Ads which are very large
- Automatically playing videos with sound switched on as default
- Ads which force you to wait for a few seconds before being able to dismiss them
- Distracting banners which flash or animate
- Overly large ‘sticky’ ads
We recently saw Facebook cracking down on businesses who’d been habitually annoying users with their antics and now this from Google. Tech giants who profit from advertising declaring war on adverts? What gives?
Is Google choosing users over advertising revenue?
For a company which derives eye-watering sums from advertising revenue, it seems counter-intuitive for Google to be blocking ads, especially those from its own service, however, it seems that people have been annoyed enough about the volume and intrusiveness of the adverts they’ve been subjected to, that they’ve taken matters into their own hands and installed software to block out not only the irritating ads, but the regular ones too.
If people start blocking ads themselves, then Google’s revenue will take a hit and it’s been suggested that over a fifth of UK internet users have already installed their own ad blocking software. With this being the case, Google would probably prefer this didn’t increase, so it’s worth their while to develop their own blocking system which discourages bad behaviour but allow ‘good ads’ to still be shown. Fewer people annoyed by intrusive ads mean that fewer people will feel forced to use alternative means (which typically don’t discriminate and instead block out everything).
So, while Google making an effort to improve our user experience may feel like altruism, the real motivation is to ensure that we don’t all get annoyed enough to arbitrarily cut off The big G’s revenue stream.
I may be a cynic, but I think I can live with that, how about you?