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Google Ads Boss: 'We Need to Deal With' Ad Blocking as an Industry

First comments from Google since Apple opened the mobile ad-blocking floodgates.


Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s top advertising executive, thinks crappy ad experiences are behind the uptick in ad-blocking tools, and that Google, along with the advertising and publishing industries, is obliged to come up with a fix.

His statements, delivered at Advertising Week in New York, mark the search giant’s first public comments on the practice since Apple opened its Safari mobile browser to content-blocking apps two weeks ago, spurring a wave of new popular ad-blocking apps. Ramaswamy fingered websites that give a “pretty terrible user experience,” citing ads that take over entire sites, for the rise in the trend.

“The real problem is that ad blockers throw out the baby with the bathwater. They make monetization impossible for a whole slew of people,” he said in an interview with Fast Company managing editor Bob Safian. “We need to recognize, as an industry, that this is something we need to deal with. We need to work together to come up with a definition of what an acceptable ad is and what an acceptable ads program can be.”

When content blockers first arrived in Apple’s app store, Google took a wait-and-see approach, holding off on any public moves until it saw how widespread adoption would be. On the debut day, ad-blocking apps topped the paid Apple App store charts. Yet their popularity has cooled off — Marco Arment, the developer behind the most popular app, Peace, pulled his, and the others have since fallen fast in the rankings.

Still, it remains a concern, particularly for small publishers and companies that sell ads on the Web, i.e. Google. Ramaswamy mentioned a consensus around “acceptable ads.” That happens to be the name of a program of AdBlock Plus, the most prevalent ad-blocking tool, which receives payments from companies, including Google and Microsoft, to “whitelist” or remove their ads from blocking software.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Eyeo GmbH, AdBlock Plus’s parent, will now let an “independent board” deem which ads can be filtered, dropping the earlier model. The company said the board will not determine what makes an ad “acceptable.”

In his comments, Ramaswamy said Google and its partners should settle on some criteria, without specifying what it is. “How do we enter a world in which sites and publishers who enter this program don’t get their ads blocks?” he asked rhetorically. “We’re in the early stages. We have some ideas. I think it’s going to be difficult for us to agree as an industry, but it’s one of those cases where not agreeing is actually going to lead to a much worse outcome for all of us.”

You can watch the full video of Ramaswamy’s AdWeek appearance here. The relevant portion begins around the 24-minute mark. (You have to watch an ad first.)

This article originally appeared on

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