While we appreciate the energy and resources that Google has brought, as a partner of the Coalition for Better Ads (launched last September), to the effort to improve the customer experience around digital advertising, we are very concerned to learn that Google appears to be taking unilateral action to implement the Coalition’s standards by adding an ad blocking feature within Chrome that would block all advertising to websites that do not comply with these new standards. Because Chrome has 60% market share in the web browser market, Google, in effect, would be regulating the distribution of Internet advertising and gaining even more control over how publishers monetize their content.
A key question is whether the feature within Chrome would block all ads on a website or filter ads that do not meet the standards established by the Coalition. As Google moves forward, we encourage it to also consider the impact of this approach on small publishers, non-profit organizations and even individuals, that rely upon smaller advertising networks to support their digital ventures.
Digital advertising is a relatively new technology and, unfortunately, some ad formats – such as auto-play video and ads that block content – that can be annoying to consumers. Fortunately, 77 percent of consumers with ad blockers installed are willing to view ads around high-quality content, but we recognize that everyone in the digital ecosystem needs to do better.
Google has been an important partner in the Coalition and has helped coordinate the extensive and real-time consumer research that led the Coalition to release standards identifying “less desirable” ad units that might drive a consumer to install an ad blocker. Since the release of these standards, the Coalition has embarked on a “one for all, all for one” campaign to voluntarily implement these standards with equal responsibility across the digital ecosystem.
As publishers of high-quality, original journalism that are largely dependent upon advertising revenue, the Alliance is deeply committed to improving the user experience with digital advertising. The newspaper industry spends more than $5 billion per year on high-quality journalism. That reporting is distributed online for free or at highly subsidized rates in no small part due to revenue from online ads. Google greatly benefits from our investments in this high-quality journalism. We look forward to working with Google to make sure that their plans do not have unintended consequences that damage our ability to ensure that American journalism can continue to provide important benefits to the American public.
David Chavern is former President & CEO of the News/Media Alliance. Chavern has 30 years of experience in executive strategic and operational roles. Prior to the Alliance, he completed a decade-long tenure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.