Apple and Google to Implement Ad Blocker in Web Browsers

On Monday, Apple at its developer conference that it will start blocking autoplay videos on its Safari web browser and will add a feature that stops ad tracking technology from using a user’s web behavior to target ads to them.

Google also reportedly will officially move ahead with its Chrome ad blocker sometime next year and will block any site which hosts ad units that don’t adhere to a set of third-party standards — basically, most sites on the Internet. The Financial Times also reported that Google is creating a feature that will allow publishers to charge users who use ad-blockers on a page-per-view basis.








Why It’s Hot:

Safari (10%) and Chrome (51%) make up most of the desktop search market in the U.S., according to comScore, and over 68% of mobile traffic in the U.S., which means that their efforts to curb ads that damage user experience will have a significant impact on the marketplace. These changes will force publishers to develop new advertising techniques.

Immediately following the announcement by Apple, ad retargeting firm Criteo’s stocks tumbled. Earlier this year, Terry Kawaja, Founder and CEO of media and technology firm LUMA Partners, said consolidation in the ad tech space (mostly driven by policy changes and user demands) will cause 90% of the companies to go out of business.

Publishers fear fallout of Google-backed ad blocker

Publishers are responding to a Wall Street Journal report that Google is reportedly launching an ad blocker for Chrome with official cheer but private skepticism and fear.

Officially — and on the record — publishers are genuflecting at the altar of user experience, welcoming moves by Google or other companies to improve online advertising. But go on background, conversations turn to the inevitable imbalance of power when it comes to the duopoly of Facebook and Google. And for some, the move smacks of hypocrisy. Here’s Google, vacuuming up the largest share of digital advertising, positioning itself as the arbiter of what ads constitute a poor user experience. Don’t expect a half page of ads at the top of a search results page to get dinged, no matter the third-party Google officially christens as the standard bearer.

Google is yet to make an official announcement, but the Journal reported that Google’s criteria for what ads should be blocked, stems from the industry committee-led Coalition for Better Ads, of which Google is a founding member. That means pop-ups and autoplaying video ads with sound, and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers, formats which the Coalition has previously deemed unacceptable, could be blocked. Most wouldn’t object to these particular ads, but these type of things tend to snowball. And these days, few publishers are in the mood to give any platform carte blanche.

One scenario Google is considering is to block all advertising that appear on sites with offending ads, instead of just the offending ads themselves.  That in and of itself is enough to set off alarm bells for publishers.

While many publishers share Google’s interests in keeping the web safe for digital advertising, publishers aren’t without fear of Google’s dominance. The Coalition is described as a big tent, with Google being a founding member, but some members privately say they consider the Coalition to essentially be a front for Google. As evidence of the search giant’s power, many publishers contacted for this story said they were under strict NDA with Google not to breathe a word about the ad blocking plans. That alone speaks volumes to the power dynamic at play here.

Why It’s Hot

1.) If nothing else, a Google ad blocker could put the onus on publishers to clean up the web (although the fact that it’d be Google making them do it makes it easier to sell it to advertisers).  Higher quality publishers will prevail on the chrome browser.

On the flip side:

2.) While this could be a good thing in general, allowing Google to have more say in thinking they’re leading a brand safety charge concerns me.  After the YouTube issues they’ve had, this is just another step to them gaining more control in their empire/monopoly.  Will they act the same toward their owned and operated categories?

3.) If Google goes ahead with these plans, it can undermine publishers’ own progress in reducing ad blocking. “We may now have to have two ad blocking strategies, one for Chrome and another for everything else,” said John Barnes, chief digital officer at Incisive Media.

The Bots Have Eyes

Though fraudulent bots have existed for years, advertisers are truly beginning to feel the impact of them as more and more brands are increasing their ad spend on websites and social media channels. A study from the Association of National Advertisers reports that online “bots” that mimic human behavior with false clicks on ads could cost the industry more than $7 billion in wasted spending.

Using technology to determine whether online ads were viewed by real humans or fake bots, fraud detection company White Ops estimated that the average company lost between $250K and $42M in ad spending thanks to bots.

The report also found that ads that are purchased to optimize impressions or those targeted to very specific demographics get the most exposure to bots. The reason, is that the demand for views on these ads is greater than the number of humans that will actually see the ad.

As brands increase their KPIs for impressions and simultaneously implement specific targeting capabilities online, bots are the ones filling in the holes to make sure advertisers seemingly meet their goals. It’s a classic problem of supply and demand-with bots falsely increasing the supply curve to reach a deceiving “equilibrium.” Some publishers will even pay third-party vendors to “source traffic” to their site—increasing both views and the percentage of views that come from fake users.

“The problem is bots often behave better than humans. That is to say, if a campaign is trying to reach the goal of clicking an ad or spending time on a page, the bots will click more often and stay longer. The result: Agencies are left optimizing for bot behavior, not human actions.” –Digiday

But there is hope. A White Ops case study found that brand survey results on inventory with bot-blocking technology had 22% higher brand engagement and 9% higher view rates than the inventory without the blocker. Thus, bot-blockers can both save money as well as improve campaign results.

Why It’s Hot: Ad fraud is a huge problem that will continue to misrepresent the success of online campaigns as well as cost brands millions of dollars if not combatted. Though agencies are beginning to certify publishers in the buying space to help filter out “sourced traffic,” the issue of ad fraud is still not top-of-mind in the industry.


Flash banners banned from Google Chrome

Google has instituted a new policy of preventing Adobe flash banners from auto-loading, auto playing and inducing the wheel of death that’s notorious on so many of the sites we innocently visit.  Now when you want to view an Adobe flash banner through Chrome, you’ll need to click on it.

The decision is hardly a novel one. Mozilla just instituted a similar policy on its browser and Amazon will no longer allow flash ads on its ad network. And according to an article on Yahoo:Tech, “People have been increasingly turning to browser add-ons that block advertising (and the creepy tracking and security vulnerabilities that come along with many of the ads). By preventing people from seeing ads, blocking software will cut off $22 billion in advertising revenue this year, up 41% from last year, according to a recent estimate from PageFair and Adobe.”

Image result for Chrome blocks flash ads

Why It’s Hot

This move could have a big impact on advertisers, who will be forced to reconsider their ad strategies. Reduced load times and fewer invasive practices (such as auto loading) may be a few such outcomes, but for the consumer, the browsing experience should get better as they don’t have to suffer through ads they have no interest in.

How Ad Blocking will Change the Digital Ad Landscape

Today, ad blocking software has been installed on 200MM browsers, globally; about 5% of all internet users. While not hugely impactful for the majority of advertisers and publishers at the moment, widespread adoption of ad blockers, driven by the motivations of consumers will force change in the world of digital advertising. Consumers will be better informed and empowered to make choices, advertisers will up their game, and it will all gain momentum with Apple’s ad-blocker capabilities coming soon in iOS 9.


Ad blocking eliminates inventory that would otherwise be monetized, with varying degrees of impact across publishers. Today, the digital publishers that are suffering the most, include those that: specialize in the tech and gaming categories, appeal to Men 18-29 and are primarily accessed by Europeans.

Learn about a wide variety of methods that are already being tested or employed by those who are already hard hit (e.g., loss of 20% of revenue last year by a German publisher) or are preparing for a future in which they may be hard hit. Solutions range from creating inventory to increase ad revenues in the short term, to educating site visitors (e.g., Wired), to creating a paywall (subscription-based content), to fully blocking browsers with ad blocking software to gaining whitelist status as a default with ad blocking software (Microsoft). The last is pretty ironic; eliminating the product benefit and going against the idea of net neutrality (i.e., affordable only to the biggies).

Why it’s Hot: It’s not hot yet, but if we wait until it’s hoto become more educated, discuss and entertain options