Chrome May Include An Ad Blocker: How This Changes The Game

Last Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a story about Google’s plans to include an ad blocker in a future version of its Chrome browser. The news is likely a shocker to everyone up to and including advertisers, publishers and everyday folks who browse the web. Why would Google want to block ads? Isn’t its business model based on delivering advertising and cashing in on a portion of the revenue then distributing some of it to websites that display the ads? This might sound even more shocking, but including an ad blocker in Chrome might actually prove to be quite an advantage to the company.

Before to getting into the juicy stuff, I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t first mention that the Wall Street Journal story cites as its source as “people familiar with the company”. For all we know, that could mean that it came from the rumor mill. It could very well be a veritable story, but whenever anonymous sources are used, it would be prudent to take the story with a tiny grain of salt no matter who is reporting it.

The news is that Google is planning to include ad blocking software in an upcoming version of Chrome and it will have an announcement within some weeks. That’s the allegation everything hinges on. The rest is speculation based on that allegation.

googleadblock-logobuilding

OK, so Google is doing something that looks counter-productive. What gives?

Scratch a little bit under the surface and mull it over for a few minutes, and the answer begins to take shape. It’s a gambit against annoying ads. When ad blockers first appeared, their primary focus was on eliminating those flashy ads that would constantly pop up all over your screen without a moment’s notice. Back in the late 90s, these ads were in style and they usually left you gasping for air as you were constantly closing windows just to get to the page you wanted. This terrifying practice has largely ceased and now ad blockers are blocking relentlessly.

What Google wants to do with its ad blocker (most likely) is establish a red line through which annoying ads will not cross. These are the ads no one tolerates. Seeing a little ad here and there splashed on a web page isn’t the kind of thing that gets people riled up, so there’s no immense demand to eliminate them.

The idea here is to make sure that websites comply with the “Better Ads Standards” from the Coalition for Better Ads. If Google can block the overtly annoying stuff out on its own, it has eliminated some of the future demand for other common ad blockers like Adblock. Currently, Google pays Adblock for exemptions to its ads. That’s a very unproductive way for a company that commands a huge chunk of the browsing market to proceed. By including its own ad blocker, over time, Google can (in theory) reduce its capital losses due to fee payments and even strong-arm the ad blocking market into a state of lethargic submission.

Remember, however, that we have no way of knowing what Google’s actual plans are. It’s just very plausible that this is their angle because it’s difficult to muster up any other conceivable reason for why a company would invest resources in a plan to create a new product of this nature and include it by default in another product of theirs.

googleadblock-youtube

Regarding this speculation, a lot of “what ifs” emerge. What if, for example, Google would use this as leverage against other advertising networks (such as Yahoo Ads and Infolinks), charging them for entry into its exemption list? That would be a conflict of interest, wouldn’t it?

Well, Adblock already does this, so the fee payments would just shift over to Google. The difference is that companies may end up paying slightly smaller fees because unlike Adblock, Google Chrome’s ad blocker won’t run on every major browser.

Another (more legitimate) worry is that Google will simply block video ads on any video service that isn’t YouTube. Although the likelihood of this is questionable, there are many reasons to believe that this might happen in the future. In that case, video ads may become a constant battleground since it is easy to just switch up advertising methods to circumvent the ad blocker. Getting into that kind of battle would be resource-intensive for Google, which probably would be more focused on developing its products to make them more enticing to users and publishers. It’s not a game they might want to play over the long run.

Do you see any other concerns regarding this new move by Google? Let’s talk about it in a comment!

10 comments

  1. “Currently, Google pays Adblock for exemptions to its ads.”
    Mow we get to the real reason(s) for Google developing their own ‘ad-blocker’. 1) They won’t have to pay somebody else. The money stays in-house. 2) Google can then choose which ads to allow through..

    What is Google going to name this new ad-blocker? Swiss Cheese?

    “Google Chrome’s ad blocker won’t run on every major browser.”
    Thank god for that!

  2. One question I would have is if this really does come to pass, wouldn’t you be able to disable Google’s Ad Blocker and install your own choice like Ublock Origin instead?

    • In that instance, my question would be “Have I REALLY disabled Google’s adblocker?”
      Given Google’s data gathering efforts, another question has just occurred, “Besides blocking competitors’ ads, what other functions will Google Ad Blocker have?” Color me paranoid and suspicious. :-)

      • @dragonmouth after seeing your point I’m paranoid and suspicious too. Very good point. Even if they have an option to disable there ad blocker how would we know if there’s is truly disabled? But then at the same time if it wasn’t fully disabled wouldn’t another one like ublock origin conflict with there’s and not work? Damn now after looking at your points if Chrome comes out with this ad blocker I may ditch Chrome cause I sure don’t want Google snooping on me. But what other browsers have all the extensions I use that Google has? Even Firefox doesn’t have the extensions besides the fact of being a slow buggy browser compared to Chrome

        • As Miguel says, Google has its hooks into other browsers and other apps. Some of them we know and many others we do not. For instance, there are certain settings in Firefox ‘about:config’ that, if left default, allow Google to track the users Internet activity. To prevent the tracking, the settings must be changed manually. I mentioned this in the comments section of a couple MakeTechEasier articles on Firefox and its extensions in the past couple of months.

          “Firefox doesn’t have the extensions besides the fact of being a slow buggy browser compared to Chrome”
          I don’t know which extensions you need but FF does have a boatload of extensions. As to being slow and buggy, I have been using FF for many years (since it was called Phoenix). I have never found it to be buggy. Every once in a while it would slow down but my wife sitting next to me and using Chrome would also experience a slow down at the same time. There are many factors that contribute to a browser being slow – number of extensions in use, system load, network load, Internet load, etc. On Saturdays and Sundays during the day, I don’t even bother to get on the ‘Net because it seems like trying to walk through molasses in February. However, all this is just anecdotal. YMMV.

          • Even if you configure Firefox not to send your data to Google, you’re still sending data by searching. Your search terms can be associated to an IP range to gain a general idea of what people in your particular subnet are interested in. Other things such as GUIDs and tracking cookies can narrow all your search data down to you. It’s really not that difficult to data mine.

            With the exception some who use some obscure browser in incognito behind onion routing, it is very likely that everyone is sending data to Facebook or Google in some way or another. It’s very difficult not to. Advertising is a very lucrative business on the internet since it can be custom-tailored. The real problem (and the one people should be most worried about) is when this data gets in the hands of people who can use that data in a political manner (such as a government).

    • If Chrome would include an ad blocker by default, I’d imagine you’d be able to disable it and use an alternative. The idea here is to reduce the demand for other ad blockers, not necessarily make it impossible to use them (although that isn’t out of the question).

      As for Google’s data-gathering, it already has troves of data it can acquire more easily through other means. In this particular instance, I doubt that using its Chrome-based ad blocker to gather data would be any more beneficial than using the browser itself (which it does). I might write a piece in the future on the connections and services I managed to find on Chrome. It seems to connect out of the blue to a variety of servers when opening the browser, even if you’re not logged into a Google account.

      • ” it already has troves of data it can acquire more easily through other means”
        Google is like a drug addict or a miser. The more it has, the more it wants. Just like the NSA. No matter how much electronic data they collect, they want MORE, until they have it ALL. :-)

      • Not to get into a deep, philosophical discussion but unless one lives completely off-the-grid like Ted Kaczynski, one leaves footprints all over the place. No amount of ad blockers, VPNs, DNSs, TORs, settings changes and/or anonymizers can prevent that. However, they can help to minimize the size and the number of those footprints. (at least I’d like to think that. :-))

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Stories