Back in May, on the Chromium Blog, Google announced plans that the company was planning to make important changes in the way its Chrome adblocker functioned. Now we are starting to see the results of Google's offensive against what the company terms "heavy ads", meaning any ads that eat up a significant amount of a visitor's computing resources. Such ads will simply no longer appear to the visitor of a website at all. Instead, visitors will see a gray box with the message "This ad used too many resources for your device, so Chrome removed it."
First time I’ve seen this. pic.twitter.com/nY21Ty3RnK— Aron Pilhofer (@pilhofer) December 2, 2020
To determine whether a particular ad is heavy or not, Chrome uses three different key metrics. These parameters are any ad that takes up:
- 4MB or more of network data, or
- 15 seconds of the browser's computer's CPU usage over any 30-second period, or
- 60 seconds of total CPU usage.
According to the Chromium Blog, less than half of a percent of all ads meet the definition of being heavy ads; however, "they account for 27% of network data used by ads and 28% of all ad CPU usage." While Google claims to be taking these steps to end what the company calls "abusive experiences" for website visitors, this move can have long-reaching effects for both businesses that place these ads as well as online publishers who depend on the revenue from selling ad space.
One of the more questionable issues surrounding Chrome's heavy ad intervention is how Google determines how Chrome blocks ads. Since Google partially bases its definition of a heavy ad on the amount of computing power an ad requires from an individual computer or device, there are no clear guidelines on what is or isn't a heavy ad. After all, a visitor's computing power is entirely out of the advertiser and the publisher's hands.
The Chrome adblocker algorithm will likely prevent the exact same ad from showing up on an older system but allow it to appear on a newer one. By choosing to go this route, Chrome is by default forcing advertisers to streamline their online ad designs to utilize the least amount of computer resources in order for the most people to be able to view it. This approach may be good for the visitor's experience. Still, it can ruin an advertiser's ad campaign, even scaring them away from investing in more creative (and higher CPM) digital ads entirely if they believe fewer people will see them.
Some have concerns about whether Google should have such power when it comes to which ads a website publisher can decide to show to it's own readers. Especially since Google already dominates the display ad market. Online publishers already have to deal with dozens of ad blocker extensions adopted by over 1 billion internet users worldwide, now Google is installing itself as the gatekeeper of which ads will or won't be allowed on the world's most popular browser.
Publishers should make sure they have a solid anti-adblocking solution in place. Admiral's Adblock Recovery solution helps website owners immediately recover lost ad revenue, as well as help their visitors whitelist the site to view the full ad stack, accept less intrusive "acceptable ads" at a lower CPM, or engage in other value exchanges. When used all together, some of Admiral's clients have seen greater than 100% recovery. On top of increased adblocking by Google Chrome, the move to stop using 3rd party cookies is another big reason for publishers to use Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) solution like Admiral's, to build their own first-party data via a strategy leveraging adblock recovery, paywalls, regwalls, paid subscriptions, integrated privacy management, and more.
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