Google Ad Blocker To Reduce Low-Quality Ads

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In mid-February, Google launched an ad blocker in its Chrome browser that would block certain low-quality ads like flashing ads, pop-up ads, large animated ads, and others from appearing on websites. It’s part of Google’s effort to help lead the ad industry’s overall mission to encourage a more favorable online advertising experience for web users. And with good reason - web advertisers lose anywhere from 5%-15% of online revenues when consumers use ad blockers to block out advertising. The move is aimed squarely at removing low-quality ads that don’t conform to the ad standards laid out by the Coalition for Better Ads, a non-profit industry group that is seeking compliance around industry standards for quality online advertising. Google is a member of the Coalition.

Here are the types of ads in each format that the Coalition deems as low-quality, and Google will block in Chrome:

Desktop Web Experiences:

  • Large Sticky Ads
  • Autoplaying Video Ads with Sound
  • Pop-up Ads
  • Prestitial Ads with Countdown

Mobile Web Experiences:

  • Pop-up Ads
  • Prestitial Ads
  • Flashing Animated Ads
  • Autoplaying Video Ads with Sound
  • Postitial Ads with Countdown
  • Full-screen Scroll-over Ads
  • Large Sticky Ads

Early Ad Blocker Impact

Advertisers (and publishers) at first were surprised by the move. But on closer inspection, the impact appears to be minimal and not a huge challenge to fix. As Adweek noted, publishers who try to serve up any one of the low-quality ads will be placed in a ‘failed status’ for up to 30 days, while the publisher reworks the ads to meet the standards. However, these numbers will likely be minimal.

Early data from Axios shows that roughly 1% of publishers have reached this ‘failing’ status, and from those that did, nearly half have already fixed the issue to become compliant. Clearly, this indicates that ensuring compliance with low-quality ads will not be a major challenge.

What about Publishers?

More often than not, publishers pay the price for the low-quality ads instead of the advertiser. When you browse a publisher’s site and get served an animated or flashing pop-up ad or similar, you can enable ad blocking for that site. But that hurts the publisher more than the advertiser, so many publishers are now using tactics to ask readers to turn off ad blockers in order to view content.

It’s All About the Online Experience

Advertising is a key part of any web user’s online experience and it’s incumbent on the industry to serve ads wisely and purposefully. Doing this can add value to the user experience. With a better overall ad environment, users will be less apt to install ad blockers, and more inclined to engage with brands.

This initiative should lower irritability among web users regarding ads, while improving brand loyalty and time on sites. That would be a win for the online ad industry. The long-term hope is that publishers’ ad revenues will rise in a better quality environment, and users’ perception of online advertising will rise accordingly as well.

What’s Ahead?

Some online advertising industry thinkers are already thinking ahead. One suggestion is a type of automated ad compliance system, for a real-time alert or notification to be sent to the ad network and the publisher for when a low-quality ad is served up. Upon receiving the alert, they can work to correct the ad quality issue, and avoid ad blocking experiences.

In an ideal online world, Google wants to participate in providing a high-quality, online advertising experience for consumers. That would be a world that doesn’t have ads that interrupt, distract or clutter a user experience. We may still get there yet.