First lets spell out some facts:
- According to Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report Facebook & Google control 85% of online ad growth
- Google Ad revenues for Q4’16 were $22.4B, represent 86% of total Alphabet revenues
- Ad blockers have been growing at a rate of 41% year-on-year
- Adblocker Plus reached 100M users during May 2016 and launched an Ad Exchange by Sept 2016
- Chrome has more than 50% browser marketshare & Google search *drum roll* 77.8%
Google Ads + No Ads
As you may have heard Google is planning on launching their own Ad-blocker on Chrome by 2018! Here’s the problem though, everyone is competing for a share of Google’s ad revenue pie already, and now Google wants to control whose ads to block as well… that doesn’t sound right.
Google has already prioritized results on mobile that use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages Project) and / or are mobile optimized on top of Google’s ever changing search algorithms. While many may be talking about Ad safety and standards for unified ad metrics (how many seconds counts as a view for a video?), can we ask: Who holds Google (and Facebook) accountable for ad-neutrality?
Adblocker Plus vs Chrome
ABP (Adblocker Plus) launched an Ad network after accumulating alot of data on ads that consumers hate (block) and how publishers serve their ads (server pings + speed). Which placed them in a position to answer: What (type, shape, placement etc) ads will my target audience likely respond to without getting annoyed? ABP is not an advertiser.
Google has been serving ads for over a decade and have extensive data on ads: types, interaction, conversion, tracking, etc. Enough data to expect what ads will go unnoticed, increase conversion, or annoy a user. Google also has their own suite of products to push to consumers and compete with a lot of companies (under Alphabet) that use the internet to promote their services. Google, Alphabet, produce everything from to-do-lists to self driving cars.
Data Data Data
Chrome and Google has SO MUCH data about their users, and even more on their prolific users (guilty). It was hard for me to imagine switching to another browser while I read Eric Petitt’s “Browse Against the Machine”, but come to think of it, he’s right! Google (and chrome) know too much, all to fuel more Ads, it’s not a fair battle ground for advertisers and surely not a fair battle ground for any Alphabet competitors.
- What can publishers do to control how much power Google has over their advertising (and ad revenues)?
- Is it time a conversation about ad-neutrality is raised?
- Is Google too big to stand up against at this stage? While the Youtube ad backlash allow us to extend that conversation to more ad-related discrepancies?
Is Google simply to be trusted to fairly regulate itself against bias? If Bing ran an Adwords campaign, would Adwords recommend ways to optimize the campaign and improve conversion?
This post originally appeared on Medium on Jun 6, 2017