Google may integrate ad-blocking directly into Chrome

Cleaning up the web, or creating an ad-revenue monopoly?

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning to integrate its own ad-blocker into its immensely popular Chrome browser. The unprecedented move would send shockwaves through the online advertising industry, with Google itself being a business that’s highly dependent on ad revenue. 

According to data shared by the US federal government's Digital Analytics Program (DAP) in January, Chrome is currently the most popular browser in the United States with a 44.5% market share. 

Given that almost half of all internet users in the US use Chrome as their browser of choice, the move could be disastrous for advertisers and online publishers. It could also conceivably allow Google to create a monopoly on online ads, in which only Google Ads will be acceptable.

That’s obviously a worst-case scenario. If the company does implement the technology, it’s more likely to be an attempt to tame web ads, with the search giant using its position of power to impose standards on the kinds of ads that are allowed through its blocker.

This could be based on specific metrics, such as performance or intrusiveness. The WSJ report believes these metrics could be based on standards already proposed by the Coalition for Better Ads.

Ad nauseam 

It’s also believed that Google is currently deciding whether its ad-blocker will block just instances of offending ads, or every ad that appears on an offending page. 

One thing is certain: unlike popular Chrome extensions like AdBlock, Google’s own ad-blocker will surely allow some ads to come through, as it’s clearly not in the interests of either advertisers or Google itself to block everything. And if implemented effectively, it could solve some of the issues that cause people to use third-party ad-blockers in the first place.

The decision to create an ad-blocking solution could also be a way to get ahead of the uptick in users adopting ad-blocking software – eMarketer and Business Insider have released statistics revealing that over 25% of Americans employ an ad-blocker on their desktop computers, with the number expected to rise to 30% by 2018.

If Google can ensure a pleasant and nonintrusive ad experience, in which websites are able to make money by selling ads without driving people mad, then everybody wins. That said, at this stage the company is reportedly still mulling over the plan, and may even choose not to go ahead with it at all.