- Google is launching a new version of Chrome this week that lets users mute reminder ads and entire sites that auto-play videos, according to reports in The Verge and VentureBeat.
- Users can silence ads in third-party apps and sites that use Google Ads, and once the website is muted, it won't automatically play sound on videos — and, by extension, video advertisements — until unmuted. Google plans to expand the feature to Gmail, YouTube and Google Search in the coming months.
- Reminder ads can be muted in the Ad Settings dashboard by scrolling to the "Your Reminder Ads" section and clicking the X next to advertisers. Google ads can be muted for at least 90 days. To mute entire sites, users can right click on the tab and click "Mute Tab" to silence the site permanently. The feature replaces the previous mute feature that was temporary.
The new mute functions highlight Google's emphasis on improving the user experience in a broader strategy of putting more power in consumers' hands, while punishing advertisers that use annoying ad formats. Pop-up ads, auto-play video and flashing animated content were some of the ad formats that users rated as highly unacceptable in a Coalition for Better Ads survey released last spring when the company first announced the test of the feature.
Publishers and marketers may worry that Google could unfairly block their content, as some already view the company as having far too much clout over the digital advertising space. Though it may seem like a counterproductive move for Google, which still generates most of its revenue from advertising, the news signals that it and other digital platforms are putting a higher premium on improving the user experience in order to combat the factors that led to the rise in popularity of ad blockers in the first place.
The growing adoption of ad blocking software continues to have a considerable impact on all digital media players, but especially publishers, which receive no revenue for ads that are never seen. Ad blocking technology increased 16% in 2016 and was projected to cost U.S. publishers more than $15.8 billion in revenue in 2017, an OnAudience.com report found. Consumers cite obtrusiveness, disruption, annoyance and security concerns as reasons for adopting the blocking tools. It's important to note that the majority of research shows that consumers don't mind seeing ads altogether — they just don't want to be annoyed by them or have their online sessions disrupted by pop-ups and auto-play sounds.
Google has offered the "mute this ad" tool since 2012 to block irrelevant or offensive ads from popping up on users' screens. The latest updates will now let users mute ads across all devices where they're logged into their Google accounts. The new ability to mute reminder ads lets users silence ads they may have once been interested in, but no longer are.