Google & AdBlocking

Jul 27, 2017 · 4 min read

Some years ago, Larry page from Google, said: “The best response to the rise of ad blockers is to create better ads”.

We are going deeper into the main actors of the Adblocking landscape, in the timeline, and into the reasons of Google to launch an Adblocker browser.

Main actors could be the publishers. Also we have AdServers, there´s a duopoly out there, you know. We have browsers, media agencies, AdBlocking companies, the iab, the coalition for better Ads and Gogle.

The timeline

Let´s take a look first to the timeline:

On September 2015 someone from Mediapost wrote:

“Track our behavior without our consent and serve “targeted” ads that make us feel stalked. Block you. Serve us ads that cover up the inferior content we read mostly to kill time. Block you. Force auto-play video ads down our throats, so we have to race to find our mute button. Block you. Serve us flashy ads that slow down the page load. Block you. Allow anyone to buy ads through exchanges, so our computers get infected with malware. Block you. Serve us too many damn ads on a single page of content. Block you.”

This was the time when AdBlockers rising was at its high. Finally, on October 2015 iab launched a document about LEAN Ads Getting LEAN with Digital Ad UX. The main principle of the word LEAN is defined by its capital letters: Light Encrypted Ad-choice supported Non invasive Ads. Here we began to hear about ‘Acceptable Ads’, Ads that must comply with specific criteria to be shown to users of ad-blocking software, based on placement, distinction and size.

A year later, the iab launched the New Ad Portfolio Draft in september 2016, it has just been launched officially some days ago.

Then, emerging from nowhere appeared The Coalition for Better Ads. They talk about Slow-loading websites, inaccessible content, and cluttered webpages which have made many people hate online advertising. Anyway Ads are a necessary part of the ecosystem because it’s a major source of revenue for online publishers

The most frustrating Ad Experiences are: For mobile users: pop-up ads, prestitial ads (those that block the content you actually want to access by loading first), pages with more than 30 per cent ad density, flashing animations, poststitial ads that require a countdown to dismiss, full-screen rollover ads, large sticky ads and auto-playing videos with sound are “least preferred”.

On desktop, the “least preferred” list includes cut to pop-up ads, auto-playing videos with sound, prestitial ads with a countdown and large sticky ads. You can take a look at the standard proposed.

The content is similar to what Nielsen Normal Group calls ‘the most hated online advertising techniques’, but with a differerent Ad naming. We could introduce here the concept of UX Ads, but I will talk about it on other post.

On Google

Related to this Google also launched the Ad experience Report. In the age of Programatic boom, It´s all about placement. Creativity is just for Branding, RichMedia is almost dead. Publishers methods finally are not working.

In 2016, advertising was Google’s greatest source of revenue at $79.4 billion. Besides AdBlock has 40 Million users, AdBlock Plus has 10 million users, uBlock has 8 million users. Anyway, we all now Google already pays AdBlock Plus to be included in the “Acceptable Ads” program that lets ads from paying companies to go through the blocker.

So why would Google want an AdBlocking browser? The reason is to have complete control instead of AdBlockers. This is a war against third party AdBlockers, control vs revenue.

For years, Google has tried to use its influence to raise standards across the web. For example, pages that have more ads than content at the top automatically get downgraded in Google search results. Google has long penalized websites that load too slowly. More recently, it has started giving preference in search results to sites that use the secure SSL encryption standard.

How will it work? Will it block only Google served Ads? Will it block third party Ads? What about YouTube Ads? Will it block VAST Ads (pre-roll)? Google says its technology will penalise non-compliant ads even if they’re “owned or served” by Google itself. The company, of course, will ensure its ads don’t fall foul of the rules. Theoretically, it would work similarly to Chrome’s update in 2015 that blocked all ads that used Adobe Flash technology.


Let´s take a look at Brave, a relatively new browser with a similar business model. It blocks third-party ads, replaces them with its own ads, and offers sites a share of the resulting revenue. Needless to say, publishers and ad networks don’t like this at all.

There are many setting options when you are using Brave, what I can say, is that everything loads faster and you have total control of Ads. You can also go to YouTube and see how many track pixels are blocked :D

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