This edition of the digital advertising update looks at the "Better Ads" industry initiative and what ad blocking has to do with it, the support Google is throwing behind the initiative and what impact you can expect from its implementation.

Related links
Website of the Coalition for Better Ads
"Building a better web for everyone" on

Video transcript

2018 is already looking to be a very interesting year for the digital ad industry. GDPR will come into effect in May, and there’s a chance that the corresponding ePrivacy Regulation is going to be rolled out as well, potentially severely disrupting online publishing and online advertising.

But it’s not only legislators that are shaking up a landscape that’s already very dynamic.

The industry side is busy as well. Starting in early 2018, the most popular web browser on the planet – Google Chrome—will start to block certain ads. That’s what we are going to talk about in this video.

(Intro Slide)

Hi. This is Stefan with admetrics.

Starting in early 2018, Google Chrome will, by default, block all ads that don’t comply with the "Better Ads" standard. What exactly is this standard?

"Better Ads" is a specification for digital ad formats that was developed by an industry consortium called the Coalition for Better Ads.

This group comprises an impressive array of major digital players, including IAB (the leading trade association for the online advertising ecosystem, AppNexus (one of the biggest programmatic platforms for buying and selling digital ads), Microsoft, Facebook and Google, along with a large number of advertising trade groups from all over the world. So it’s fair to say this group is credible and resourceful and has technical expertise.

The "Better Ads" standard specifies the most excessive, aggressive or annoying types of ad formats—basically building a blacklist.

At this point, the "naughty" list contains:

- popups that block a web page while trying to read it,

- videos that start playing automatically, wasting bandwidth,

- ads that unexpectedly play audio,

- flashy ads, and

- interstitial ads that can only be closed after a certain amount of wait time.

The frustration and annoyance created by these kinds of ad formats have been motivating scores of users to install ad blockers, even users that aren‘t really that tech-savvy or have no problems with ad-supported content in principle. While ad blockers do solve the problem for the user, the other side—publishers or content creators—is deprived of the revenue that the blocked ads would have brought in.

Ad blocking has become such a concern to publishers and ad-tech companies like Google that they developed the "Better Ads" initiative to counter the ad-blocking trend.

The idea is pretty straightforward: Fix the user experience problem of bad formats that drive users to block ads, winning back the audience for publishers and creators.

So far, the "Better Ads" standard had only been a recommendation, but now Google has decided to throw its full weight behind the initiative by blocking all non-compliant ads in its Chrome browser starting in early 2018.

Since Chrome dominates the browser market with a share of over 50%, this decision is nothing short of a game changer. It means that publishers and advertisers basically have no choice but to comply with the standard.

In our opinion, "Better Ads" is a good thing because it provides clear guidelines to the industry while maintaining a balanced approach that respects the interests of all sides. So we definitely welcome its wide adoption. Even if Google is using its dominant position to further its own interests here, there’s currently no serious opposition, perhaps because the initiative makes so much sense to all stakeholders.

In conclusion, “Better Ads” means that you can expect a better online experience for consumers in the short term and more revenue for ad-supported creators in the midterm – if "Better Ads" can really roll back the ad-blocking trend, that is. And in the long term, "Better Ads" could serve as an example for successful self-regulation instead of legislation—which is always a good thing. So let’s see how this plays out. We are intrigued.

If you want to know more about "Better Ads", check out the links in the description.

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This is Stefan. Take care. Until next time.

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