Google Strikes Another Blow to Intrusive Ads: Here’s What You Need to Know

Google Strikes Another Blow to Intrusive Ads: Here’s What You Need to Know

Before you can get to what you visited that site to see, you have to wait, as a countdown clock in the corner of the ad taunts you with, “Close this ad in 5 … 4 … 3 … ” At this point, does anyone else just hit the “back” button with an angry mutter of, “Nevermind, I’ll read something else”? They keep you from getting to the content you want to see. Rather, the goal appears to be for webmasters to move away from digital ads that interrupt a user’s content consumption -- but not to lose critical ad revenue in the process. The problem with intrusive ads, writes Google SVP of Ads & Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy in the official announcement, is that they motivate users to install browser plugins that block ads altogether. This particular move is largely the result of Google’s partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, which recently developed Better Ads Standards -- it appears that those standards serve as the foundation for Google’s new ad recommendations to content creators. What was clear in the announcement, however, is that within Google Chrome -- which as of May 2017 had just over 63% of global desktop browser market share and 49% on mobile -- the ads in violation of the new standards will be completely blocked. They’re what Google calls “high-density displays,” and they can make it even longer for users to get to the content they came to a site to see. When ads themselves load quickly, and don’t slow a page’s load time, people tend to engage with them more. Those are some of the things that comprise “programmatic technology,” Google says, and having that information can help content creators build ad experiences that are relevant to their users. Will you change your ad experiences in response to the new standards?

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We all know those moments when we stumble upon what looks like a golden piece of content. And just as you’re about to dive in — an ad appears.

You can’t just close it, either. Before you can get to what you visited that site to see, you have to wait, as a countdown clock in the corner of the ad taunts you with, “Close this ad in 5 … 4 … 3 … ”

At this point, does anyone else just hit the “back” button with an angry mutter of, “Nevermind, I’ll read something else”? That’s because ads like these tarnish your online experience. They keep you from getting to the content you want to see. They’re intrusive. Google knows that — and now, it wants to prevent that from happening to Chrome users.

Last Monday, Google announced that it would further crack down on websites that feature intrusive ads like these. And while that might sound great for many, what does it mean for content creators who rely on ad revenue? Don’t panic — you’re not doomed.

Below, we’ve broken down what marketers need to know about these new guidelines (spoiler alert: Google isn’t doing away with ads altogether), and what you can do to prepare for their rollout.

What’s New in Google Ad Blocking

A Better User Experience Without Revenue Loss

To repeat our earlier spoiler, it’s not Google’s intent to do away with ads completely. Rather, the goal appears to be for webmasters to move away from digital ads that interrupt a user’s content consumption — but not to lose critical ad revenue in the process.

The problem with intrusive ads, writes Google SVP of Ads & Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy in the official announcement, is that they motivate users to install browser plugins that block ads altogether. And ultimately, that widespread blockage takes “a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers, and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.”

Given Google’s algorithmic history, this announcement doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. It’s penalized sites with heavy above-the-fold ad content since 2012, and last year, it announced that mobile sites with intrusive pop-ups wouldn’t rank as well — both among consistent changes that, at least on the surface, appear to be motivated by an endless quest to improve user experience.

This particular move is largely the result of Google’s partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, which recently developed Better Ads Standards — it appears that those standards serve as the foundation for Google’s new ad recommendations to content creators. Once publishers modify their ads to meet the new standards, they can then use Google’s Ad Experience Report to test if they’re in violation of the new standards.

The Penalty

But it’s not entirely clear how, in a broader sense, what the penalty will be for those in violation. The official announcement makes no mention of search ranking implications, though given the search engine’s history within this realm, we wouldn’t be surprised if websites…

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