At the Chrome Dev Summit 2016, where it was revealed that the popular Web browser now has 2 billion active users, Google also shared its stand on ad-blocking, and it should come as no surprise.
Google’s primary revenue source is ads, and its approach is to fix what’s wrong with ads instead of putting them off the table entirely by building an ad-blocker into Chrome, something the likes of Opera have done in the past. CNET interviewed Darin Fisher, VP of Chrome Engineering who said, “We feel like there are a lot of challenges in advertising. There are a lot of wrong ways. If publishers and advertisers do ads the right way, it can be great for the users and for the ecosystem”.
There has been a constant battle between the pro-user experience camp that wants to avoid ads or tracking mechanisms because they’re too intrusive and resource-consuming, and websites blocking such users because ads are the primary revenue for many. In August this year, there started a cat-and-mouse game between Facebook and popular ad-blocking service AdBlock Plus, where the latter would allow blocking of ads on Facebook, only for that service to rendered useless soon after.
It’s not just ad-blocking apps, some browsers themselves have moved to the offensive by offering such built-in features. Opera unveiled such a feature May this year, while Samsung built an ad-blocker into its own browse. Apple too introduced a mechanism for third-party apps to block ads and other content in iOS 9 the year before.
Google has also tried to restrain the rise of content blocking Android apps, by revamping developer guidelines that explicitly say that “apps that block or interfere with other another app displaying ads” is a violation of the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement. Also, ad-blocking services have come under fire too, for allowing certain ads to pass through, for the sake of making revenues themselves. AdBlock Plus unveiled an ‘Acceptable Ads’ platform that sells and serves ads to its users. Popular iOS content blocker app Crystal also let certain ads pass through for paying publishers.
Google is taking initiative to improve ads with efforts like the Coalition for Better Ads, which includes other big names like Facebook. Considering many of the world’s businesses are running due to online advertisements, the concern of consumers using ad-blocking services is graver than ever.