Google’s Chrome ad blocker is coming, but may be ineffectual

Earlier this year, Google was rumoured to be working on a built-in ad blocker for its Chrome browser.

Now in a statement, Google has confirmed they will start blocking all ads on websites who fail the Better Ads standard starting February 15.

The full statement reads:

Yesterday, the Coalition for Better Ads announced the “Better Ads Experience Program.” This Program provides guidelines for companies like Google on how they can use the Better Ads Standards to help improve users’ experience with ads on the web.

In June, we announced Chrome’s plans to support the Better Ads Standards in early 2018. Violations of the Standards are reported to sites via the Ad Experience Report, and site owners can submit their site for re-review once the violations have been fixed. Starting on February 15, in line with the Coalition’s guidelines, Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a “failing” status in the Ad Experience Report for more than 30 days. All of this information can be found in the Ad Experience Report Help Center, and our product forums are available to help address any questions or feedback.

We look forward to continuing to work with industry bodies to improve the user experience for everyone.

On first reading, it appears that Google will start waging war on publishers around the internet who do not fall in line with the standard,  but this may not, in fact, be the case.

In fact, it appears Google will only be blocking ads on websites who have registered with the Coalition for Better Ads, and registration is voluntary and may actually carry some fees.

The CBA notes:

In January 2018, the Coalition will begin rollout of the Better Ads Experience Program, a voluntary initiative for industry participants to improve the online ad experience for consumers and promote marketplace adoption of the Better Ad Standards. Based on a framework developed by the Coalition, the Better Ads Experience Program will certify web publishers that agree not to use the most disruptive ads identified in the Standards and will accredit browsers and advertising technology companies that will assess publishers’ compliance with the Standards and filter digital ads based on the Standards.

It is likely that most companies who want the freedom to set their ad ratio themselves will not register with CBA, for risk of being found in violation of the policy and getting all their ads blocked by Google. It seems the best way to win is not to play at all…

Of course, Google is a very influential company, and if they start taking membership of the CBA into account as an important SEO signal then it is likely that the vast majority of companies will fall in line with CBA guidance. If they do not, however, it is likely they never intended their ad blocker to do much blocking of ads in the first place.

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