Google Chrome’s Ad Blocker Vs. Customer Journey Hijacking Prevention
February 15, 2018
by Ohad Greenshpan
As anticipated by publishers and advertisers, Google went live today with its built-in ad blocker for Chrome. From now on, Chrome will automatically block ads on sites that receive a failing rating according to the standards prescribed by the Coalition for Better Ads. This proactive move by Google to curtail these particularly intrusive ads is a positive one for users, many of who are routinely exposed to, and annoyed by these ads.
At Namogoo, we’ve received a number of questions from industry peers wondering: Is there anything in common between the ads Google is blocking here and the ones that Namogoo blocks for online businesses as part of its Customer Hijacking Prevention platform? We’ve been expecting these questions, since the problem we solve — Customer Journey Hijacking — is still largely very new to the consciousness of the eCommerce ecosystem. But this is also a perfect time to help bring clarity to this issue, and help people to distinguish between the types of ads online users can now hope to see less of when surfing the web, and the ads that actually impact the bottom lines of our eCommerce clients.
To answer the question above: The only thing that these ads have in common is that they are highly annoying and disruptive to users. Apart from that, we are looking at two very different animals when it comes to how these ads arrive on a website, what their impact is to the site owner or business, and what it takes to stop them.
Essentially, there are three major differences between the ads Google is focused on and those prevented by Namogoo’s Customer Hijacking Prevention solution:
1) Intended legitimate ads vs. unauthorized injected ads
While infuriating to many users, the ads Google Chrome will be policing starting today are legitimate ads that are served along with the page by the website owner. These ads, such as banner and video ads that appear when viewing content on various sites, are an approved stream of traffic monetization for many sites where advertising revenue is a core part of their business model. They may be annoying, and Google is now stepping in to keep their tactics more honest — but online ads that pass these Better Ads Standards going forward will still appear to users because they’re authorized to be there by the site itself.
On the other hand, the ads that Namogoo prevents are invading websites, including online retail stores and marketplaces — and are not asking for permission to be there. These ads are coming in, whether the websites like it or not. Rather than being served as part of the page to online visitors, these unauthorized ads use malware on the user side to inject themselves locally into the consumer’s web browser. This happens when users download legitimate software such as program updates or service bundles like free PDF viewers, and ironically antivirus programs, or when they are surfing the web on public WiFi networks. Targeting users on their personal browsers allows these intrusive ads to bypass server-side visibility or control over their activity, which is exactly what they were developed to do. In fact, the site owner doesn’t even know that these ads appear on the user’s browser while arriving at any of their web pages.
Users hijacked by these ad injections are met with competitor product recommendation widgets, pop-ups, banners, and in-text redirects, all aiming to divert them away from the eCommerce site to other promotions.
So, while they are both disruptive to the user, these illegitimate ads are essentially trespassing websites to hijack their visitors and conversions. It’s these unauthorized ads we identify as Customer Journey Hijacking.
2) Preventing unauthorized ads requires a disruptive approach
As with the first difference I mentioned, the source of these ads is completely different, and therefore requires a different approach in order to prevent them.
Google, in conjunction with the Coalition for Better Ads, are instilling compliance standards over intrusive, albeit legitimate ads. They evaluate sites by examining a sample of pages. Depending on how many violations of the standards’ violations are found, they will assign them with a score of either ‘passing’, ‘warning’, or ’failing’.
Rather than checking for the ads themselves, Namogoo was built to inspect anomalies on the web. Our Machine Learning-based technology monitors and analyzes hundreds of millions of web sessions weekly from the server all the way to customer browsers, and uses pattern analysis techniques to classify web activity that if deemed malicious is blocked from running. By blocking the injections on the user side, Namogoo prevents unauthorized ads from hijacking the intended customer experience for our clients and diverting them away to their competitors.
3) Customer Hijacking Prevention goes far beyond blocking online ads
To sum it up, these are two very different (and yes, very annoying) types of ads, each with very distinct intentions, and specific methods needed to prevent them. While the ads that Google is combating are far different than the illegitimate ads causing Customer Journey Hijacking, we both do share something in common — our commitment to improving the online experience for users.
I hope this helps distinguish between legitimate ads and unauthorized injected ads, and sheds light on the difference between how these ads are prevented by Google Chrome and Namogoo’s Customer Hijacking Prevention solution.
Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.