Making Science

Why Google wants to adblock Chrome, and how to save rich media advertising

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Stuart Garlick, content marketing manager at Nexd, discusses Google's work to introduce a feature which blocks ads that use up too many resources and what this could mean for rich media ads

Google Chrome logo mobileThere are big changes afoot in the advertising industry. We’ve already written an article, ‘What Can Make Rich Media Ads Terrible, and How Do We Improve Them?’. In this, we touched upon the issue of Google doing more to regulate the ads that appear on its platforms, first take on interstitial advertising, then other forms of ad.

This is an emerging issue, and so it’s important to shed some more light on it. Here is an in-depth look at Google’s intentions, how the advertising industry can adapt to it, and what the future might look like for banner advertising, and for rich media advertising.

What is Google Doing?
Put simply, Google is putting safeguards in place that, it says, will stop users from having their experience interrupted by heavy, memory-sapping, ads. It will do this through its own native adblocker, which forms part of the Chrome browser, and through a series of algorithmic changes which will allow it to identify when an ad is, as it deems it, too large, and compromising to the overall user experience.

The main types of ads that Google first took on, in 2017, were prestitital and interstitial ads. These were felt by many to be the most disruptive online ads, as they required an action from the user before they can view the content they were looking for. The latest moves by Google, through algorithmic changes, are designed to cover all ad spaces, for ads deemed to compromise the user experience.

Why is Google Doing This?
Although Google has pointed out the improvements for users that it says will occur with greater restrictions to ads, there is also a parallel purpose for this change to its attitude to ads. Actually, several, but they’re linked.

First of all, Google, Apple, and Facebook are the ad platforms that dwarf the others on the market. This is because they promise that, for a relatively low outlay, ads can appear on an unparalleled number of sites. They can also be seen by an audience that can be tailored pretty much to the content of the advertiser.

The problem is that it can be hard to customise the experience, and generally Google Ads carry few surprises and little to grab the attention of busy consumers. In the main, they’re subtly evolved versions of the static banner ads that have always appeared on the world wide web.

Google Ads is obviously the platform that Google wants to promote, as the company makes its money from it. If that sounds like it’s restricting access to non-native ads in order to push more customers towards its own offering… well, we couldn’t possibly comment.

Why Does This Affect Rich Media and Video Ads in Particular?
The upshot from this, of course, is that the ad marketplace is becoming more crowded and hotly-contested, and some ad providers are going to lose out in the process. Rich media ads, in the main, may be under threat from Google’s decision, because by their definition they play sound or video as part of their offering, and offer a fuller experience than a static banner ad.

That’s part of the issue. Rich media ads are, as we have mentioned, often big, heavy and unwieldy. If they’re built on HTML5, that means, in many cases, long waiting times to view the ad in its full glory, depending on the device on which it is being viewed, the internet speed, and other factors.

What Else is Google Doing?
The other thing Google is doing is restricting Chrome users’ access to popular third-party adblockers. For the reason why, in these cases, you need to follow the money. Google wants users to have to use its own adblocker, native to Chrome, at the expense of others.

For the average user, this takes away some of the choice they’re used to. For advertisers and publishers, who would normally welcome the reduced power of some adblockers, it’s actually not as good as it sounds. This is because those ads are just going to be blocked by something else instead.

What Can We Do About This?
Okay, okay, we know you probably saw this coming, but it’s true. We don’t like to brag, but here at Nexd, we have an answer, with an approach that has been part of our core values from the beginning. The main problem Google is trying to solve, apart from its own bottom line, is the problem of bloated ads not being friendly to the user experience, and spoiling the consumer experience.

Our question has always been: why SHOULD there be bloated ads in this day and age? Why do people want to adblock Chrome with third-party apps in the first place? Heavy doesn’t always mean a fuller experience, sometimes it means the opposite. That’s a big reason why people were enticed by the likes of Adblock Plus, which Google is itself now trying to undercut on Chrome.

Remember what we said about your slow ads being basically the same as ad fraud to users? Have you ever wondered if users wouldn’t prefer their ads to load in, say, 0.2 seconds, rather than 1.5 or more? It’s definitely something to think about.

What’s the Solution?
It’s for this very reason that Nexd has developed software that allows anyone to create ads. Not only does this cut out the middleman, meaning that any marketing manager or head creative can build their own great campaign, but also meaning that there’s an increased chance consumers will appreciate your ad.

That’s the thing: with Nexd ads, compared to the slower, bulkier, HTML5 rich media ads, you have a faster-loading, works-first-time experience, every time, and that’s a real plus when it comes to the bottom line, and to generating leads.

Not only that, you’re not wasting your potential audience’s time, or unnecessarily taking up their attention, because they can see your ad, interact with it, and get through to your call-to-action, in what’s a pleasurable experience on any device.

On the other side of things, you’re saving money because you no longer need to pay out for an agency to make your ad for you – instead you’re able to craft a beautiful-looking, full-experience rich media ad without any coding experience whatsoever. We think it’s a win-win situation.

Why Should Advertisers and Marketers Stick with Rich Media?
The problem with digital advertising is not any type of advertising – that’s like blaming the computer for the virus you downloaded, when actually the problem is the user’s lack of knowledge of the precautions they needed to take to avoid it.

In the same way, rich media is, fundamentally, a good idea. This is because it engages people on a different level to static ads. Another thing it does is it makes the brand more approachable and user-friendly. It also lets the consumer see products in a different light than would be possible in a still photograph, for example.

People may have ‘banner blindness’ – that is, they may be immune to the appeal of a traditional static ad. Saying that, if they see something on a screen that they can manipulate in some way, it becomes, if crafted in the right way, a pleasure. Rich media still reaches out to people in a way that other ads cannot – but Nexd ads, uniquely, are constructed to reduce ad sizes by up to 90 per cent, without compromising quality, leading to a smoother, more flowing experience with interactivity.

The Key Takeout
Rich media may seem, on first view, like it’s under attack from the changes being phased in by Google on Chrome. By restricting adblockers from third parties, they’re making sure that the only adblocker that is guaranteed to be consistent and decisive is its own, and not only is that bad for competition, it’s bad for the majority of advertisers.

Rich media, given that, in the majority of cases, it requires the use of a lot more memory and graphical capacity than a static ad, seems to be on the block – but Nexd has a different way, one without hogging resources from the end-user, bringing far superior results. Try it, and see if you agree.