Google turning on ad blocker, pushing AMP email feature

The web company says it will start filtering ‘problematic’ ads tomorrow and has previewed new features to make emails more visually interactive.

With its incipient ad blocker and a new email format, Google is closing one marketing door and opening another.

The company announced it would turn on its ad blocker tomorrow, a change that PR pros have known about since December. To help publishers prepare, Google explained how its ad blocker would work.

The Verge wrote:

Google is not planning to wipe out all ads from Chrome, just ones that are considered bad using standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. Full page ads, ads with autoplaying sound and video, and flashing ads will be targeted by Chrome’s ad filtering, which will hopefully result in less of these annoying ads on the web.

[…] “The majority of problematic ad experiences are controlled by the site owner,” explains Chris Bentzel, Chrome engineering manager. As a result, Google is taking a three-step process to tackling these bad ads by evaluating sites, informing sites of issues, and then allowing sites to correct problems before a block is enforced.

Google is also teasing a new email format that could be more engaging for readers and help email marketers capture more leads.

The Verge wrote:

Google is bringing its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) capabilities to email today through a developer preview for Gmail. The feature, called AMP for Email, will allow developers to make emails “more interactive and engaging.” Google envisions the feature to be beneficial to users because developers can embed widgets in emails that are constantly up-to-date and include actionable functions that work without leaving your inbox. Google’s existing AMP webpages are an emerging standard for webpages that load radically faster than regular mobile pages.

What exactly does that mean for marketers? For one thing, emails could be far more interactive—and visually creative.

The Verge continued:

Google says the AMP for Email feature will allow you to do things like RSVP to events, browse and interact with content, or fill out forms without leaving an email. […]

An email from Pinterest for example, would allow you to browse through images and click on them for more details — like how you would on the site — but through the email itself. It could be a handy feature if you’re sick of the 20 odd tabs you’ve got open and are easily distracted.

Google announced the features in a blog post, saying:

Today AMP stories are available for everyone to try on their websites. As part of the AMP Project, the AMP story format is free and open for anyone to use. To get started, check out the tutorial and documentation. We are looking forward to feedback from content creators and technical contributors alike.

Also, starting today, you can see AMP stories on Google Search. To try it out, search for publisher names (like the ones mentioned above) within g.co/ampstories using your mobile browser. At a later point, Google plans to bring AMP stories to more products across Google, and expand the ways they appear in Google Search.

Some aren’t thrilled with the idea of AMP operating in their inbox.

In an opinion piece for TechCrunch, Devin Coldewey wrote

Emails are static because messages are meant to be static. The entire concept of communication via the internet is based around the telegraphic model of exchanging one-way packets with static payloads, the way the entire concept of a fork is based around piercing a piece of food and allowing friction to hold it in place during transit.

[…]We know that all an email can ever do is say something to you (tracking pixels and read receipts notwithstanding). It doesn’t download anything on its own, it doesn’t run any apps or scripts, attachments are discrete items, unless they’re images in the HTML, which is itself optional. Ultimately the whole package is always just going to be a big, static chunk of text sent to you, with the occasional file riding shotgun. Open it a year or ten from now and it’s the same email.

Most important, Coldewey argues, users are not clamoring for this feature:

Why do this? Are we running out of tabs? Were people complaining that clicking “yes” on an RSVP email took them to the invitation site? Were they asking to have a video chat window open inside the email with the link? No. No one cares. No one is being inconvenienced by this aspect of email (inbox overload is a different problem), and no one will gain anything by changing it.

[…] AMP is, to begin with, Google exerting its market power to extend its control over others’ content. Facebook is doing it, so Google has to. Using its privileged position as the means through which people find a great deal of content, Google is attempting to make it so that the content itself must also be part of a system it has defined.

Some publishers are already embracing the new tools with demos:

The ad blocker is getting its share of buzz on social media as well, with users noting the change and a few deft tricks that Google is employing to spread its message:

YouTube also released this helpful video for marketers looking to get up to speed:

How will Google’s latest changes affect your strategy, PR Daily readers?

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