Could The Chrome Ad Blocker Help Programmatic Move Past The Click-Through Rate?

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Michael Lehman, vice president of supply at TripleLift.

Despite efforts to evolve private marketplaces, investment in automated guaranteed and recent developments around non-standard formats being transacted programmatically, the indirect channel continues to struggle to attract brand dollars and relies heavily on click-through rate (CTR) over any other measurable metric.

As a result, many buyers typically follow standard direct-response purchase patterns and metrics like CTR when executing buys, regardless of the publisher or ad execution. This leads to a world where premium publishers must compete with bot traffic for ad spend, and ads that users find annoying generate higher yield than those that actually convey the marketer’s message effectively.

With Chrome’s new ad blocker, different analyses offer varying predictions of its impact, as competing parties are incentivized to guide the public and industry to certain conclusions.

Depending on where a given company sits in the crowded Lumascape, the blocking of the 12 outlawed ad types on more than 50% of global internet traffic, based on Chrome’s market share, will inevitably make an immediate impact on many businesses: Ad-blocking companies will find their consumer value proposition less compelling, smaller publishers that rely on indirect spend may feel short-term revenue pain and tech platforms that power intrusive, interruptive advertising will be forced to pivot.

But others will benefit. Consumers, for example, will enjoy a more respectful internet experience, and brand marketers and premium publishers will benefit from a less resentful and increasingly loyal audience. Also, tech companies supporting non-intrusive ads will be positioned to catch redirected spend toward their supported ad formats.

That said, Google’s enforcement of the Better Ads Coalition’s approved ad formats will also lead to significant indirect outcomes Effective advertising performance, for example, will no longer be compared to intrusive but high-performing formats, the mean performance for indirect advertising across the marketplace should change dramatically and premium publishers will be more accurately rewarded for audience and content.

The Better Ads Coalition has defined which unacceptable formats will be blocked by Google on its website. These ads were not necessarily built to annoy the user – annoyance is usually an inevitable byproduct – but they were clearly architected to score well against simple digital advertising KPIs geared toward direct-response budgets.

A huge adhesive ad that blocks content is 100% viewable, for instance, even if it forces users to look past and eliminate it. And a mobile pop-up with a tiny minimize button is likely driving excellent CTRs as users unintentionally click on units they are trying to delete.

In very rare instances do the ads actually achieve advertising objectives. In fact, they generally do the opposite by potentially linking consumer frustration to ad consumption, but they appear to perform well by manipulating performance. To make matters worse, these formats also skew the optics around what constitutes strong performance and effective advertising altogether.

For the marketplace to realize the positive indirect outcomes of the Chrome ad-blocking initiative, buyers, publishers and tech platforms must have desperately needed conversations about how to both effectively measure the value of programmatically transacted advertising and prove attribution without relying exclusively on short-term metrics. Ideally, this moves us closer to a world where programmatic channel is consistently attracting brand spend, advertising effectiveness is measured by more than just CTR and more sophisticated ad executions and audience quality will reward publishers with the appropriate upper-funnel spend.

Ultimately then, this move is the latest industrywide development focused on cleaning up the digital media marketplace. And, as we’ve seen with other marketplace developments, such as Ads.txt and supply-path optimization, not only do these initiatives help solve their immediate problems, they help uncover misaligned incentives and marketplace inefficiencies that sit below the surface.

Follow TripleLift (@triplelifthq) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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