Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy: Ad Blocking Is A Rallying Cry For The Industry
Google's SVP of ads and commerce chats ad blocking and the future of digital advertising during Advertising Week.
Sridhar Ramaswamy,Google’s SVP of ads and commerce, spoke about ad blocking for the first time publicly during Advertising Week in New York City this week, saying it’s a rallying cry for the industry to coordinate and agree on advertising practice standards.
Let’s start with the basics: All of us enjoy services like Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail and Facebook, which are available to all of humanity. And, it has opened up opportunities for so many people to be able to earn a livelihood by putting out content and having it supported by advertising.
But here’s the thing, there are certain sites that are leading to the rise of ad blockers.
The problem, Ramaswamy says, isn’t that users hate all ads, it’s that ad blockers are an all-or-nothing switch that penalizes quality ads, formats and placements along with the bad.
The fix will come from industry collaboration and agreement on standards, said Ramaswamy:
This is something we need to address together as an industry. We need standards of good ads that you and I would find acceptable as consumers.
Ad blocking presents creative challenges and certainly a business challenge.
Fast Company editor Bob Safian, who led the discussion, asked Ramaswamy if he felt Apple’s move to allow ad blockers will have a measurable impact on Google’s business, which, of course, is powered by ad revenues. Ramaswamy largely skirted the question, touting the fact that “Apple is one of our largest partners” while acknowledging that the relationship hasn’t always been smooth. “Apple has a different business model, but we need to work together” to address the issue of blocking ads that support so many of the platforms and content consumers rely on.
Ramaswamy said he has been encouraging his team to talk more with consumers through panels about digital advertising.
People don’t understand how the advertising model works. This is exacerbated on mobile with all the permissions you have to accept. This leads to an environment of distrust. In Europe, we have rolled out consent forms with options . . . Users can turn off interest targeting. Right now, people assume the worst.
Not mentioned was the fact the disclosures in Europe were compulsory.
Ramaswamy isn’t the only ad exec calling for a unified effort to address the miserable ad experiences we so often experience on mobile, in particular. The talk is still short on specifics, though. It remains to be seen whether ad standards not only get agreed on but in fact entice users to disable their ad blockers.
The Future Of Digital Advertising
Safian ended by asking Ramaswamy if he thinks digital advertising will continue to become increasingly complex. Advertisers should take note of his answer:
I think it will get simpler . . . The ultimate dream is you express your KPIs and the technology does the hard work after that. We are a few years away from this.
If that dream becomes reality and actually works as advertised, it sounds pretty close to nirvana. The thought of ceding control to the platforms at this point, however, has brought looks of concern to the marketers I’ve spoken to about it at SMX East this week. There’s no argument that we are moving toward this programmatic vision, it’s just a matter of how much reality and the “ultimate dream” overlap.