Add-on-Con Google - the world's largest online ad broker - sees no reason to worry about the addition of ad-blocking extensions to its Chrome browser. Online advertisers will ensure their ads aren't too annoying, the company says, and netizens will ultimately realize that online advertising is a good thing.
"We think about this a lot at Google, because we make [just about] all of our money from advertising," Google engineering director Linus Upson said on Friday at a browser-obsessed conference in Mountain View, California. "It's unlikely that ad blockers will get to the level where they imperil the advertising market, because if advertising is so annoying that a large segment of the population wants to block it, then advertising needs to get less annoying.
"There will always be some group of people who want to block ads for personal reasons. But if we do a good job on the advertising side, people won't want to block ads. People will find them actually useful.
"I think there will be a nice equilibrium. If people get too aggressive with ads, then ad blockers will become more popular and companies will get less aggressive with ads. The market will sort itself."
Last week, the Mountain View Chocolate Factory unveiled a Mozilla-like extensions gallery for its Google Chrome browser, and though there are some restrictions on what developers can upload, Upson says there's no explicit ban on ad blockers. Indeed, such blockers are already available, and one - dubbed AdThwart - is listed as the gallery's second most popular offering.
AdBlock Plus has long been among the most popular extensions at Mozilla's Firefox gallery, AMO (aka addon.mozilla.org), and Upson expects a similar situation with Chrome. The difference is that whereas Firefox controls an estimated 25 per cent of the market, Chrome has a mere 4 per cent.
Let's also remember that the sugary sweet spin Google puts on its online ad platforms is absolute rubbish. Google may say that most people won't install ad blockers because ads are ultimately useful. But the truth of the matter is that most people won't install ad blockers on Chrome because people are fundamentally lazy. Inertia is the general rule on the web - as in life. That's why Google's ad-juicing technologies are opt-out - not opt-in.
And of course, there's no guarantee that Google will always allow ad blockers. At this point, Google wants more market share for Chrome, believing this is the best way to feed its online ad ambitions. The more people who use Chrome, the more people Google can point to Google services. That means Google can collect more user data, and with more user data, it's better able to target ads.
Certainly, allowing Chrome blockers is a path to more market share. Many use Firefox solely for its ad-blocking extensions. But once Chrome is ubiquitous, Google's thinking could change. What happens when Chrome controls 90 per cent of the market, for instance, and Google's largest advertisers start demanding satisfaction?
Not that this is a likely scenario. Like we said, people are lazy. They don't go out of their way to use anything other than what they already have. And you can bet that the epic amounts of data Google collects about the world's netizens says much the same thing. ®