Google’s New Ad Blocker Could Help it Monopolize the Ad Market, Blacklist Competitors

Google is taking steps to eliminate annoying and intrusive ads by introducing a new ad blocker that will be built into the Google Chrome browser. It will block ads Google believes are harmful to your online experience.

It isn’t a direct copy of AdBlock Plus’ “Acceptable Ads” program, but it does work in a similar way. Google will only let through ads it believes are acceptable. The ads it doesn’t consider acceptable will be blacklisted. Pop-ups, large sticky ads, auto-playing videos with sounds, and pre/postitial ads with a countdown are just a few of the blocked formats cited by the Coalition of Better Ads.

Mark Patterson, a professor of law at Fordham University, said it’s hard to disagree with Google for trying to get rid of annoying ads. But Patterson even went as far as to say the Coalition of Better Ads was a “cartel orchestrated by Google.”

These formats are definitely annoying and harmful to the online experience, but the blocked ads would likely be those not created by Google itself or members of the Coalition of Better Ads, thus giving it more power over the ads Chrome users see.

This is where the argument of the Coalition of Better Ads acting as a cartel becomes a compelling one. Because Chrome is the most-used browser in America, Google and the Coalition member’s ads are the most viewed and the blocker restricts all others.

Cartels often occur in oligopolies. An oligopolies is defined as a small number of sellers dominating a market or industry. Sounds like the Coalition of Better Ads once the blocker is fully integrated into Chrome, doesn’t it?

United States antitrust laws are in place to limit the number of acquisitions and mergers by a company in order to lessen the number of competitors it has. They also prohibit collusive practices like the creation of cartels, as well as the creation of monopolies.

Google has already reached a near-monopoly level of control in the ad world, and this move only strengthens its stranglehold on the market. This near-monopoly level leverages an argument that Google is violating U.S. antitrust laws both in the cartel sense and with its constant acquisition of online advertising companies. (DoubleClick in 2007 for 3.1 billion, AdMob in 2009 for 750 million, and AdMeld in 2011 for 400 million, among others.)

So the ad blocker, in a sense, is just another way for Google to abuse its monopolizing power over the market.

Sources:

https://theintercept.com/2017/06/05/be-careful-celebrating-googles-new-ad-blocker-heres-whats-really-going-on/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/22/opinion/sunday/is-it-time-to-break-up-google.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/06/05/google-says-its-chrome-ad-blocker-will-lead-to-better-ads-but-some-see-a-self-serving-ploy/

https://www.vox.com/new-money/2017/6/5/15729688/google-chrome-ad-blocking

https://www.betterads.org/standards/

http://www.zdnet.com/article/chrome-is-the-most-popular-web-browser-of-all/

(thumbnail via Gizmodo)

G.J. Melia