Have you ever wondered why Google, one of the largest ad-based revenue companies, supports AdBlock? In 2012, AdBlock reportedly cost Google $887 million, and by 2015, that number had risen to $6.6 billion. By 2020, AdBlock had caused publishers to lose $35 billion worth of ad revenue. It would seem like any reasonable business would have taken it down by now, or at least taken steps to make it ineffective. Yet, AdBlock is still readily available on Google’s Chrome Webstore, with hundreds of thousands of reviews and 350 million downloads.
Google has not taken steps to eliminate AdBlock, and they have actually been paying AdBlock tens of millions every year to whitelist ads. But why? The answer lies in the fact that AdBlock is more beneficial for Google than blocking it. In this article, we will examine why AdBlock is beneficial for Google and how it allows them to maintain their monopoly within the browser and search spaces.
Google is not stupid; they would not support AdBlock if they believed it was a net loss for the company. Allowing AdBlock is more beneficial for Google than blocking it, and one of the main reasons is that it allows them to protect their monopoly. Chrome is by far the most popular browser in the world, with over 60% market share across all devices. However, Chrome is the only browser that’s backed by an ad business.
Safari is backed by Apple, who is mainly a hardware and services business. As for Edge, it’s backed by Microsoft, who doesn’t even need consumer-based revenue anymore as they’ve transitioned to being an enterprise business. Firefox is a non-profit organization that’s staying afloat thanks to donations from Google. Chrome is the only browser that depends on ad-based revenue.
This might not sound like a big deal, but it does make Google vulnerable. What would happen if Google stopped allowing AdBlock on Chrome? AdBlock would suddenly become a selling feature for everyone else, and given that none of them need ad revenue, they would sell the heck out of this. They might make a public deal with AdBlock or feature the AdBlock app on the app store or pay journalists to make a comparison between the browsers. All of this would result in many of the 350 million users who currently have AdBlock to consider or even switch to one of these other browsers.
By making AdBlock easily accessible on Chrome, Google is able to protect this massive segment of the market. AdBlock isn’t just effective at fending off large players either. It’s also effective at fending off new, up-and-coming players as well. All of the browsers we just discussed were created by established companies as an afterthought, and that’s why they don’t need ads. However, if you were going to create a browser-based company, it’s very likely that it would be centered around ads. If you want to have any chance at taking on Chrome, you too would have to allow AdBlock.
Benefits of AdBlock for Google
AdBlock increases Google’s click-through rates, conversion rates, and even ad rates. It also allows them to maintain their domineering monopoly within the browser space and the search space. Back in 2017, Google was trying to build its own AdBlock that would be built into Chrome. If Google had succeeded in this, it would have enabled them to control which ads could be blocked and which ads could not be blocked.
However, Google’s own AdBlock would have had many negative consequences for the company. Users would have been suspicious of Google’s intentions, and they would have likely moved to another browser that allowed them to block ads.