February 15th, 2018, marked the fateful day Google started blocking ads on its Chrome browser — a browser with almost 60% market share in both desktop and mobile markets. Google originally made the announcement in June 2017 that it would soon begin blocking low-quality or disruptive ads, releasing guidelines on how to meet their advertising standards in December 2017.
As one of the most prominent technology companies, not to mention a company that makes about 90% of its revenue from advertising, why in the world is Google blocking ads?
What pushed Google to make this decision?
Ads Can Be Annoying
Nobody likes seeing an ad pop up on a site — especially if that ad disrupts what you’re trying to accomplish.
Google took this anecdotal observation and quantified it after partnering with the Coalition For Better Ads to conduct a 25,000 person study on how users interacted with ads.
The findings are what you would expect.
Words like “annoying” or “distraction” were used when describing ads — words you don’t want customers using when they’re perusing your site.
Feedback like this shows a problem that’s more than banner blindness; ads are causing a poor experience for users (which should scare you with Google’s new push toward user-behavior metrics). This idea is what led Google to jump in on ad blocking.
The New Google Chrome Ad Blocker
After reviewing survey data, Google decided to use the Better Ads Standards, created by the Coalition for Better Ads, as a guide for what is blocked by Chrome.
Source: Coalition For Better Ads
If any one of these 12 ad formats is used, Google will block every advertisement on the site. Though a strict penalty, it’s assumed Google is being heavy-handed to ensure ad guidelines are followed.
How does Google enforce their ad blocker?
Sample pages are pulled and crawled from a site, giving a Passing, Warning or Failing grade based on a percentage of pageviews that don’t meet the standards.
As of now, there are three main guideline thresholds. Ads will stop being served when:
- 7.5 percent of the pageviews in the first two months are failing
- 5 percent in the four months following are failing
- 2.5 percent thereafter are failing
Google will notify sites via their Ad Experience Report in Search Console if a site doesn’t meet the ad standards. If a website does not fix any issues within 30 days, Google will begin to block ads on the site.
What does the Chrome Ad Blocker mean for the digital marketing industry?
Only good things.
PageFair reported third-party ad blocker use grew 30 percent in 2016, and that number hasn’t slowed down.
Users are already blocking ads, and the more people that turn to third-party blockers, the more likely Google’s own advertising network’s ads will be blocked.
By Google taking control and blocking ads that actively annoy users, advertisers are forced to create engaging, relevant ads — something we’re 100% behind. If users no longer see annoying, disruptive ads, they may be less likely to use a third-party ad blocker that blocks all ads.
Just like the white-hat SEO practices we live by at Blue Compass, advertising with the consumer in mind means no pushback from Google and a better user experience all around.
Who will be affected by the Chrome ad blocker?
After a little digging, WIRED was able to dig out some information from the Google team regarding the effects of their ad blocker.
“Despite the advance hype, the number of sites Chrome will actually block ads on turns out to be quite small. Of the 100,000 most popular sites in North America and Europe, fewer than one percent violate the guidelines Google uses to decide whether to filter ads on a site, a Google spokesperson tells WIRED.”
While this doesn’t surprise our team at Blue Compass, we do think the Chrome ad blocker will impact more sites than Google is letting on.
Sites like Target, YouTube and other popular sites have never served annoying ads. It’s often the smaller sites, like local news sources, where we tend to see autoplay video and interstitial ads in abundance. It’s when visiting these sites that we believe users will see the biggest change.
If you’re a small business owner or local organization, be sure to review any ads you may have on your page and make sure they fall into the new guidelines. And if you are an advertiser preparing to place digital ads on other websites, you need to do the same.
How Google Is Fighting Ad Blocking
When Google rolled out their ad blocker, they took a smart, proactive approach to online advertising. PageFair’s 2017 report showed 77% of US ad-blocker users say they’re not opposed to ads — just annoying ones.
The problem is the ads, and Google has recognized this. By taking the step to protect users, Google will hopefully stop third-party ad-blocking software from eating into their revenue and help those of us who just want a browsing experience without pop-ups.
Even though it’s a self-serving move, it’s good to know that Google is focusing on user feedback and their interaction with sites. The more we move toward a user-friendly web, the better.
How do you beat the ad blocker?
If it hasn’t been drilled home yet, the answer to beating the new Chrome ad blocker is creating ads that have user experience in mind.
Don’t be intrusive.
Don’t be annoying.
Serve your ads to relevant users and provide your users with value. Blanketing ads across the Google network will only drive up your costs and create disdain toward a brand.
If you’re worried about your ads or any that may be on your site, reach out to Blue Compass, and we can help.
At Blue Compass, we have always adhered to Google’s standards, and with ads, it’s been no different. Our team of digital experts frequently works within Google’s network and knows how to handle any type of AdWords campaign.