TIME TO CLEAN UP: Google's new built-in ad blocker pushes publishers to create better ad experiences.

Author:Knolle, Sharon
 
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Goodbye forever annoying autoplay videos and large sticky internet ads that take up the whole page.

At least, in theory: Google Chrome launched its new built-in ad blocker on Feb. 15 in response to the Coalition for Better Ads' 2017 Ad Experience Report. It's part of an initiative to improve the user experience and reduce the number of "bad ads" across the web. But how much will this affect newspapers' digital revenue? How drastically will they have to reconfigure their ads? And docs this give Google too much power over what we see and don't see when we log on?

According to PageFair's 2017 study, 11 percent of the global internet population is already blocking ads on the web, a figure that grew 30 percent in 2016. And according to StatCounter, as of January 2018, Chrome was the most popular browser with 56.3 percent of the market. PageFair also reported 21.7 percent of Chrome users already use an ad blocker.

That means ad blocking--and Chrome--can't be ignored.

"PASS OR FAIL"

Although E&P went to press before the ad blocker launched, we talked to Google, the News Media Alliance and others about what Chrome's built-in blocker might mean for news sites.

Damian Radcliffe, professor in journalism at the University of Oregon, told E&P, "We know that ad-blocking is a growing trend around the world, and that ad-blockers are used across all demographics, including younger users. The inability to serve ads clearly costs publishers money, but this isn't a trend that's going to go away any time soon."

Radcliffe advised, "(Newspapers) need to improve the user experience for readers coming to their digital properties." He cites an "overwhelming array of banner ads, pop-ups, or side bars full of garish-looking adverts" are often found on local news sites, the kind that make people want to use the most extreme ad blocker possible.

"It's an off-putting experience, which often leads to the content looking 'buried' and which does little to drive click-throughs or other forms of engagement," he observed.

Enter the Coalition for Better Ads' new standards (betterads.org/ standards).

"It was designed to be a voluntary, multi-stakeholder program, to clean up the digital advertising experience for consumers," said Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy at the News Media Alliance.

But now, with Chrome, Google is making these higher standards a commercial reality that publishers can't avoid.

According to a Google representative, Chrome will only filter ads on sites that have been reviewed by the Ad Experience Report, have a "failing" status, and have not been resolved within the 30-day...

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