- Google is reportedly exploring changes to its third-party ad targeting program, and several working groups within the company are looking into how the move would impact advertising in its Chrome web browser and the Google Marketing Platform, according to a report in Adweek, quoting sources familiar with the matter.
- A desire to address growing concerns around privacy are behind the discussions, but any changes implemented are likely to impact third parties’ ability to target ads and — given Google's breadth — could lead to industry-wide changes and possible antitrust scrutiny.
- While no final decisions have been made, sources say changes to Chrome are likely and could impact how ad-tech vendors operate on the browser, which accounts for 63% of the market share.
Google potentially making changes to third-party ad targeting would be an attempt to quell growing concerns over consumers data privacy, but could impact how online media is monetized, per Adweek. The discussions within Google follow recent moves by competing web browsers to restrict ad-tech software, with Apple's browser Safari implementing third-party tracking restrictions and Mozilla Firefox blocking ad-tracking software by default. Brave is a web browser built to give users a way to block ads and tracking.
Data privacy is a growing concern for consumers following high-profile cases, like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Seventy-one percent of U.S. consumers worry about how brands collect and use their personal data, with 27% trusting Google, according to ExpressVPN research. Tech companies, like Google, continue to launch new ad programs and features to boost transparency on the platform. However, Google's outsized influence on digital media means any changes it makes could considerably restrict business for ad-tech firms.
Google is approaching how to enhance the user experience as it relates to ads on several fronts.
Google Chrome recently said it would stop showing disruptive ads, after the expansion of the Better Ads Standards was announced. The standards, created by the Coalition for Better Ads, filter ads based on 12 experiences that users find intrusive, and that publishers should stop using. Google also launched Ad Settings giving users a better understanding of and more control over how ads are targeted to them.
Google recently announced that it removed 2.3 billion bad ads in 2018 for violating its new and existing policies. Google also removed nearly 734,000 publishers and app developers from its ad network, removed ads from about 1.5 million apps and took ads off about 28 million pages that violated the publisher policies.
The news also comes as Google was fined $1.7 billion by European antitrust regulators for limiting how websites displayed ads sold by their rivals, according to The Wall Street Journal. The new fine makes $7.67 billion total levied against Google over the past two years, as European regulators continue to look into the tech giant’s practices, regarding ad targeting.