Is Chrome ad-blocking a necessary evil?

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Much has been said and written about Google integrating a built-in ad blocker to its widely popular Chrome browser in order to cut down on intrusive ads that do not follow the Better Ads Standards set by the Coalition of Better Ads used to improve web users experience.

There were both positive and negative reactions to this when it was first announced last June. It was only recently, before the practice came into force in February of this year, that it was clear how ad-blocking works in Chrome.

How did we get here?

Having been in the adtech industry when rich media display ad was in its infancy, to today where programmatic is a norm, I would say there are a number of reasons that could possibly contribute to this.

I believe, as an ad designer, that we play a major role as we compete with each other to help publishers monetise while at the same time deliver branded content for our advertisers to their targeted audience. The formula is simple; more ads means that there are more opportunities.

This leads to a drop in clickthrough rates and performance due to our own brain’s nature of filtering ads, no matter if it’s relevant or not. We call it banner blindness.

There is also the ever increasing publishers and expanding content online, creating a goldfish generation where attention is the new currency for advertisers as they look into numerous ways to capture users’ attention.

With technology advancement such as data-driven targeting, remarketing and programmatic, we are fast becoming akin to a printed fashion magazine - thick with ads but without much content.

Although there are good ad vendors that design ads in a win-win situation for users, publishers and advertisers, there are some that ignore the experience of the users and focus mainly on the profit that can be earned by publishers.

Therefore when the users finally have had enough, in come ad-blockers! These days with third party ad-blocker apps on the rise, more users are becoming aware that they have the choice to install and block all ads.

Moving towards a sustainable web for everyone

It’s obvious that Google is a key player in the digital landscape but if not them, who? Initially some would react negatively as if Google is playing big brother to the rest of us, but we have to accept that with great power comes great responsibility and of course the ability to clean up the ecosystem.

We should also be aware that in these transitions, there will be an obvious dip in revenue for the publishers (check out Google’s Ad Experience Report if you are a publisher). But we should remain optimistic because if things are truly ideal, imagine this: Less clutter, more emphasis

No longer do we have to worry that banners will be blinded, and we can focus more on designing creative ads within the given standards and guidelines to better create a lasting impression with the users.

Better experience, positive recall

Creating ads that load fast, are relevant, and can offer users an immersive experience builds trust and loyalty for both publishers and advertisers.

Scarcity creates higher value.

Publishers will have higher returns per inventory, provided they can attract users to their content. So, moving forward, expect high quality content from established publishers. Expect a better ecosystem where good content is rewarded, user experience is prioritised, and better ads are delivered.

Edward Lum is marketing art director at Innity