Sunnier Side of the Office

Google’s Chrome Ad Blocker is Here

Google rolled out its built-in Chrome ad blocker last week, a move that is expected to make a big impact on the web. Its goal is to block annoying ads, such as auto-play ads with sound and pop-up ads, with a particular emphasis on mobile ads. It will also blacklist sites that violate specific guidelines, and then filter all ads on those sites (though so far the number of sites in violation is very small).

“The company notified sites in advance that they would be subject to the filtering, and 42 percent made preemptive changes, the spokesperson says, including Forbes, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and In Touch Weekly,” said Wired.

Google’s evaluation of ads is based on the Coalition For Better Ads standards. The Coalition is a group of major digital advertising players, including Google, Facebook, GroupM, Crieto and many more. The Wall Street Journal reported that “several coalition members said Google conceived of the coalition and conducted the bulk of the research it used to determine which ads should be blocked.”

More than 59% of internet users use Chrome, so it does pretty much force ad-reliant publishers to comply with the standards. Many publishers are welcoming the changes, though some are reportedly somewhat uncomfortable with the company’s power.

Google’s AMP Project Releases New Story Format

By Katharine Painter

In 2015, Google launched the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project to accelerate load time of content on mobile devices. In basic terms, the AMP Project is a set of guidelines that a website developer follows when creating mobile web pages to allow nearly instantaneous page loading and smooth scrolling. Today, there are nearly 31 million AMP domains.

Last week, Google announced the launch of the AMP story format, similar to stories on Snapchat and Instagram. The story format is now available for anyone to use; however, CNN, Mashable, and Conde Nast are some of the first adopters. Stories appear within Google search, allowing publishers to connect with consumers as they’re actively seeking information.

As consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices, it’s important for publishers to tell an intriguing story, while also fulfilling expectations of a quick loading, smooth user experience.

While ads aren’t currently available in this format, a Google spokesperson mentioned that details around advertising will be released in the upcoming weeks. Since stories will be created from scratch, it’ll be interesting to see if publishers use resources to develop new posts. If they do, brands will have new ways to incorporate themselves within this content.

Audi Wins Three Graphis Awards

Good news for our friends at Audi! We worked with Audi and photographers Reuben Wu and RJ Muna to create stunning photos for Audi’s Instagram feed. Not content with the same old automotive photography, we traveled everywhere — from the Ice Castles in New Hampshire to Transylvania to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah — to create magazine-editorial worthy photographs for Instagram.

We’re delighted Audi’s trip to Transylvania won Gold and Silver in the Automotive category. The visit to the Mars Desert Research Station series (above) took home a Silver, also in the Automotive category.

Congrats to all!

How Facebook’s Vision for Democracy Crumbled

By Jessica Gaylord

Wired released an in-depth report last week detailing how Facebook’s defensive, confused behavior led the platform to “disaster.” Around two years ago, Facebook wanted to be the platform for breaking news. However, it’s clear that Facebook did not carefully consider the implications of becoming a dominant force in the news industry. Mark Zuckerberg saw Facebook as an open, neutral platform. He had to, or else Facebook would be responsible for the content its users put out into the world based on Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

To maintain this image, as well as avoid regulation, Facebook started presenting every piece of information to its users regardless of its veracity. Sensational headlines and fake news became favored in the algorithm, which Russian operatives took advantage of for the 2016 presidential election. But Facebook didn’t catch this until it was too late—leading it to only now take steps to rectify the damage. The article is worth reading, even if you don’t personally use Facebook.