According to the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Google is considering incorporating ad-blocking into a new version of Chrome. It would be enabled by default on both the desktop and mobile web.
Because of Chrome’s dominant global position, there could be a significant, industry-wide impact. However, the WSJ report hedges and says that an announcement could come within weeks or not at all.
Google has come out strongly against ad blocking in the past but is also trying to punish or eliminate certain kinds of ad units and practices, especially on the mobile web (e.g., “intrusive intersititials”).
Global browser market share
The types of ads the blocker would address are reportedly those below a standard of quality and consumer acceptance established by the Coalition for Better Ads, a group that includes Google and Facebook. The WSJ asserts:
Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers are deemed to be “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”
In one possible application Google is considering, it may choose to block all advertising that appears on sites with offending ads, instead of the individual offending ads themselves. In other words, site owners may be required to ensure all of their ads meet the standards, or could see all advertising across their sites blocked in Chrome.
Ad blockers are used widely on PCs and smartphones but haven’t yet materialized into the crisis the industry feared in 2015. Still, according to PageFair, more than 600 million devices globally were running ad-blocking software as of December 2016. A majority of those (62 percent) were mobile devices.
The WSJ article further explains, based on its sources, that part of the motivation for Google is to stunt the growth of third-party ad blockers, some of which seek to position themselves as paid gatekeepers between advertisers and publishers. The IAB has called these efforts “extortion.”
According to StatCounter, the Chrome Browser has a roughly 52 percent global market share. In North America it’s nearly 48 percent. Safari is next with 29 percent. However, when PCs are eliminated, Apple’s Safari browser is dominant in North America.