Fatigue from relentless targeted online advertising has spurred a growing share of internet users to download ad blockers – browser extensions that remove digital ads from websites. In fact, more than one in four U.S. internet users removed digital ads from Web pages with an ad blocker this year, according to a report by eMarketer.
That’s bad news for ad tech firms and publishers who rely on selling ads to make money. Rubicon Project of Playa Vista is trying to solve the problem through a new Google Chrome browser extension, codenamed Project Awesome, which empowers users to tailor the ads they view and give feedback to advertisers. The company launched a beta version of the extension this month.
Users can block, snooze, or like ads they see within the extension. Based on that feedback, Rubicon will attempt to serve ads that are relevant to individuals. Users can further tailor ads they view by describing their preferences within a profile, which is kept anonymous from advertisers.
For example, a user could express an interest in traveling to Hawaii via a profile, said Tim McQuillen, who runs the Rubicon incubator that developed the extension.
“Advertisers can be notified that I’m in market to go on a trip and send me deals,” he said.
Project Awesome works in a similar way to an ad preference tool named AdChoices, which was released by industry group Digital Advertising Alliance in 2010. That tool allows users to indicate they don’t want to see an advertisement again.
Project Awesome differs in that it allows users to give positive and negative feedback about ads they are being served, said Shekhar Yadav, Rubicon’s executive vice president of innovation.
“AdChoices was more of a reactive thing that the industry did,” he said. “We are more of a proactive solution to figure out what the consumers want.”
The company doesn’t plan to generate revenue directly from Project Awesome. Instead, it will push the tool as a means to improve advertiser-user relations and as a way to improve the perceived value of ads, which Rubicon is betting will help raise prices, said Dallas Lawrence, the firm’s chief communications officer.
“Our business benefits when the entire ecosystem grows,” he said. “The more money that comes into digital advertising the better for us.”
Mobile VR Move
In a move to enter the burgeoning virtual reality gaming industry, Seismic Games of Palms last week purchased Grue Games of West Los Angeles for an undisclosed amount.
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