Google is giving web advertisers until the end of the year to comply with the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads, after which a new ad-blocker in Chrome will start blocking non-compliant ads.
This raises some interesting questions.
Google is the biggest provider of advertising services on the web. Will Google block ads from its own platform if they don’t meet the new standards? That scenario, while interesting to ponder, is unlikely to occur, since Google’s ad creation tools will presumably prevent it.
If Google’s ads are unlikely to be blocked, won’t this be viewed as anti-competitive behaviour by other advertisers? Google will point to the independent standards set up by the CBA, but will that be enough? Less-reputable advertising providers — those allowing the sorts of ads Google wants to block — stand to lose significant revenue. These days it doesn’t take much to trigger a lawsuit, and Google is a favourite target for litigation, because it has enormously deep pockets.
From the user perspective, Chrome’s new ad blocker will be purely beneficial. Opera already has a built-in ad blocker, and it’s likely that the other major browser makers are working on similar features. But there are weird times ahead for Google.