The New Wave of Ad Blockers Threatening Advertising

By: Katie Stout

Digital Marketing Strategist


There has been lots of talk about a product that makes most marketers shake in their boots, ad blockers. Two of the largest tech companies around, Apple and Google, just announced that they will be including ad blockers with new versions of their browsers. Does this mean that marketing as we know it will change?

Why Advertisers Are Worried

Currently, only about 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile users use ad blockers. This percentage is small because many ad blockers on the market today are created by smaller, less reputable technology companies. With Google Chrome adding a standard ad blocker, the number of browsers with an ad blocker installed will increase to 59% of desktop users and 51% of mobile users. While that might sound nightmarish to some, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

A New Breed of Ad Blockers

When we hear the word ad blocker we often think of a type of software that prevents unwanted ads from plaguing our computer screens. These new built-in Ad Blocker’s don’t aim to completely rid the internet of ads as that would severely hurt Google’s business. They aim to improve the user experience when it comes to ads.

Apple’s Solution

It’s no secret that Apple prides itself on keeping their user’s personal information private and the user experience clean. At the most recent WWDC, Apple decided to kick these benefits up a notch with their High Sierra update for their built-in browser Safari.

Targeting Retargeting

I’m sure we have all visited a website searching for a service or product only to have said product/service follow us around for days or weeks to come. Advertisers call this type of ad retargeting. This is the kind of ad that High Sierra will block. This update won’t completely get rid of all advertising, but it will keep your browsing habits a little more private.

Preventing Video AutoPlay

Have you ever browsed the web and had an invisible video ad start auto playing in the background? We all know how aggravating this can be. In High Sierra, this won’t be an issue any longer. The power of play will be back in your hands!

This update isn’t Apple’s first dive into the adblocker world. In 2015, they released a “content blocker” on their mobile devices that spooked the advertising world, but didn’t bring it crashing down around us.

Google Chrome’s Patch

The goal of Google Chrome’s new ad blocker is to reduce the number of websites that have become overrun with ads. Instead of blocking all ads, Google is partnering with Coalition for Better Ads to identify ad types that negatively impact the user experience on websites. These include: pop-ups, autoplaying video ads with sound and prestitial ads.

Why We Aren’t Worried

In short, calling these new browser updates ad blockers isn’t exactly accurate. Google is calling theirs an ad filter and Apple is simply working to improve their user experience.

As digital advertisers, we know that the best ads aren’t about blocking potential customers from the experience they are seeking. Advertising isn’t effective if it is the digital equivalent of jumping in front of someone who has shown no interest in you and waving your hands like a wild animal.

Today’s marketing is increasingly about the having the right message, in the right place, at the right time. These new “ad blockers” are only making us focus on that with even more ferocity.