A couple of days ago, Google started to block ads in Google Chrome. A lot of you may ask “Wait, what? Isn’t Google’s main source of income online ads,” and that was my first reaction as well. But after a few seconds, I realized that this is a really smart and strategic decision that hopefully will stop a lot of users from using third-party ad-blockers.
What’s the problem with traditional ad blockers, then?
Over the last 10 years, we have worked hard on AlternativeTo. We are a really small team with two full-time employees in Sweden, as well as 5-6 remote employees that work a few hours per day. 100% of our income comes from ads, and I’m guessing most small and medium sized websites around the world have a similar situation. Online ads has been an incredible way for regular people who have a vision to earn an income without having to be a slick salesperson or a venture capital hustler.
Anyway, back to the question. The problem with traditional ad blockers has been that they block everything without any consideration that particular websites are doing everything they can to not run intrusive, offensive, dangerous, or just irritating ads. I’m 100% sure that ad blockers in the long run are making the internet a worse place by both pushing more and more businesses towards proprietary platforms where ads cannot be blocked (such as app stores) while also showing more and more ads to users that do not run ad blockers. It’s a “vicious spiral” that Google is now trying to fix.
Just to be clear, I totally understand why people want and use AdBlocker. Loads of site owners are abusing ads to the extreme and have pushed users towards using ad blockers to be able to experience the web as it should be. However, this punishes the good guys as well.
So, how will the Chrome Ad Blocker fix this?
Chrome will block ads on sites that don’t comply with the guidelines from the Coalition for Better Ads' Better Ads Standards. These could be issues like high ad density, auto-playing ads, ads that block entire pages, and especially ads that try to trick users into doing bad stuff.
Hopefully, this will push site owners to show fewer, better, and less intrusive ads, and also make the internet a better place for all users by making it possible for more people to make some money off of their website and be able to spend more time making them better.
You can read more details about how it works on Google’s Chromium Blog.
And I understand that users might want to continue to run a “block all” ad blocker, but at least you may not have to install an ad blocker on your “not so tech savvy” friend’s or relative’s computer if they use Chrome just to keep them safe. This also acts as a new alternative that sits in between a "Block all" and a "Block nothing" approach.
Also, check out the interesting project Brave that has a built in ad blocker that blocks everything but encourage you to pay publishers instead.