Apple and Google look to put users first

New technology from these titans will fundamentally change ad tech

Ever since the ad industry forced itself into the online realm people have complained about the ads’ negative impact on page load time, site redirections, browser privacy, and overall user experience. Many users have become so fed up with bad ads that they have resorted to third-party ad blockers. In fact, the number of people using ad blockers grew by 30% in 2016. This large spike in the use of ad blocking technology has finally caught the eye of tech giants like Apple and Google, who have decided it’s time to take matters into their own hands and improve the way users and ads interact on their respective web browsers.

Apple

Apple’s response to the growing demand for a better ad experience is to target user privacy by blocking ad trackers. Ad trackers allow websites to stalk a visitor after they have left the site and collect their browsing data in order to identify their browsing habits and target them with specific ads that correspond to these habits. If you have ever been followed around the web by the same ads for something you once viewed or bought, then the site you were on was likely using an ad tracker.

Many people have voiced concerns about their internet security, as they do not want websites collecting and storing their browser history. Apple’s response is to add an ad tracker blocker to their web browser (Safari) so that websites are not allowed to collect data on users when they have left their site. Essentially, no ads will be blocked and the web will act as it normally does, but users will no longer be followed cross-site by trackers so their privacy and security are ensured.

Google

Google’s approach to bad ad experiences is a bit more aggressive as they plan to restrict websites from showing any ads if they are identified as having a bad ad experience. In response to the rise of ad blockers and growing sentiment against annoying and intrusive ads, Google joined The Coalition for Better Ads. The Coalition for Better Ads is an organization that is made up of many companies (most notably Google, Facebook, and The Washington Post) that all strive to uphold the Initial Better Ads Standards, which are the requirements set by the coalition that an ad must fall into in order to not be classified as a bad ad. These requirements include no pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, prestitial ads with a countdown, large sticky ads, and multiple other restrictions for mobile devices.

In early 2018 Google plans to restrict any site on its browser, Chrome, that consistently violates these standards from showing any ads at all. Additionally, Google will add a tool that allows publishers to display a message on their sites that asks any third-party ad blocker user to disable their ad blocker or pay to take the ads off the site. Both of these features have great potential to improve the ad experience by purging bad ads while still facilitating an effective market for publishers. It’s a brilliant move, in that it will also curb the use of competitive ad blocker software.

What’s next

These moves will undoubtably change the ad tech space and will be popular amongst users. News of these plans have already started to cause waves. Many ad tech companies that sell retargeting technology are concerned (and so are their shareholders).

Publishers are frantically building strategies to become compliant with Google’s ad filter (Google has supplied a tool similar to Google Page Insights that publishers can use to establish some compliance). So why has everyone waited until now to react? As we’ve discussed in the past, most pubs/ad tech companies are short term revenue focused, leaving no incentive to focus on the user. Now, user privacy and experience will have a direct correlation with revenue. It will be more important than ever to build experience for the user, especially around ads. Finally…

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