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As Microsoft Joins Coalition for Better Ads, Blocking by Browsers Looks Set to Spread

By Published on .

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella smiles during the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in Seattle on May 10.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella smiles during the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in Seattle on May 10. Credit: David Ryder/Bloomberg

Microsoft has joined the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry association trying to improve online marketing before frustration drives more consumers to block digital ads themselves.

The move suggests that Microsoft's Edge browser could eventually unilaterally block ads that coalition research has deemed annoying.

Google, another coalition member, has already confirmed that its Chrome browser will start "filtering" annoying ads early next year. (The term "blocking" carries a lot of baggage.)

Asked whether Edge will follow suit, a Microsoft spokeswoman said the company will "work in partnership with industry partners to continue the development and implementation of standards that will have a positive impact on consumers and the entire online advertising community."

"We're currently working through an implementation plan, and have nothing further to share at this time," she said.

The idea behind the Coalition for Better Ads is that industry stakeholders, from browser makers to publishers to advertisers, would rather give up some of the least-liked ad formats on their own terms than see consumers install independent ad blocking tech with perhaps even less forgiving rules.

The group's members also include Procter & Gamble, Unilever, WPP's GroupM, Facebook, Thomson Reuters, The Washington Post as well as the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Association of National Advertisers.

"At Microsoft, we believe in supporting and collaborating with the online advertising industry to develop standards that make the digital ecosystem function better for consumers, marketers and publishers," Rik van der Kooi, corporate VP for Microsoft search advertising, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday:

In this spirit, we are excited to announce that Microsoft has joined the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA). Through our advertising platforms, and our multitude of consumer services, we believe we can make an important contribution to improving and safeguarding advertising standards on the web.

Microsoft is committed to working with our industry partners and the Coalition for Better Ads to continue the development and implementation of standards that will have a positive impact on consumers and the entire online advertising community.

Microsoft's entry into the coalition is good because its success requires "all of the key stakeholders to be around the table," according to Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade association for online publishers and a coalition member itself.

"My only pause is it's been previously reported that Microsoft like Google pays to have its own ads whitelisted by ad blockers," Kint adds by email. "We would like to see this practice stop immediately."

The broswer plug-in Adblock Plus from Eyeo charges large companies fees to participate in its whitelisting program. IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg has likened the fees to extortion.

The Microsoft spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on that point.

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