In what sounds like the irony of all ironies, a Wall Street Journal report states that Google is planning to add an ad blocker to Chrome browsers – both desktop and mobile versions – and it’s likely that it will be turned on by default.
Google’s own ad blocker would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide a bad experience for users when they’re surfing the web – things like popup ads, those that auto-play videos, and ‘prestitial’ ads – ads that cover the entire page, with a countdown timer before you can close it and actually read the content that you’re after. These standards are apparently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, which deemed these kinds of ads “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”
Now this all sounds really great to the average consumer, but it does raise a bit of suspicion that Google, which makes money for Alphabet mainly via advertising, would come up with its own ad blocker. This is especially when the company has been working hard to circumvent or even punish users of other ad blockers, the most obvious case would be on YouTube, where users with ad blockers will lose the option to skip ads, some of which are longer than the video they are trying to watch.
Perhaps the logic here is that Google comes up with its own ad blocker so as to quell the growth of other ad blockers. Google apparently pays to be part of an ‘Acceptable Ads’ program by the makers of AdBlock Plus, a popular ad blocking extension on its own Google Chrome browser. This obviously costs money, and maybe what Google’s top people have in mind is that their own ad blocker would stop users from using other ad blockers, saving them the cash that would otherwise be spent on paying to be an ‘acceptable ad’.
But on the flip side, if Google becomes an ad blocker itself, it could then charge other advertisers it makes money out of even more exorbitantly, once they have to also start paying to be an ‘acceptable ad’ in addition to just being an add taking up space on a web page. This sounds a tad hypocritical, and will likely be a step to be criticized by other advertisers.
All speculation aside, the Wall Street Journal’s sources say that details are still being ironed out, and if it comes to pass, Google could announce it within weeks. Google itself declined to comment when contacted by the Wall Street Journal.