What to Expect from Google Chrome’s New Ad Policy

February 21, 2018 / Danielle Dean

Breaking: On February 15, Google enabled its built-in ad blocking technology for Chrome in response to user feedback regarding intrusive advertisements.

Read time: 3 minutes, 35 seconds

On February 15th, Google officially enabled its built-in ad blocking technology for Chrome. This move came about as a response to user feedback regarding the prevalence of intrusive or annoying advertisements on various websites. While Google is not planning to put the kibosh on all ads in Chrome, the search giant will enact site-wide ad bans on web properties that consistently violate the guidelines set forth by the Coalition for Better Ads. These guidelines are officially known as the Better Ads Standards, and they were developed in response to an extensive survey of over 40,000 Internet users. Survey participants were asked to view common ad formats, and then offer their opinions as to how intrusive those ad experiences were. As a result, the CBA identified the following ad formats as being below the “threshold of consumer acceptability:”

Desktop Ad Experiences

  • Pop-Up Ads – This ad format is a commonly cited example of intrusive advertising. As the name implies, pop-up ads will suddenly appear in a very conspicuous area, often blocking the content of the web page and occupying most of the screen space.
  • Auto-Play Video Ads with Sound – This intrusive ad format essentially “ambushes” the user with a video that begins playing as soon as the page loads, often with the volume blaring. Most of the time, the user will have to scramble to quickly close the window in order to stop the audio from playing. Note: Video ads that have a “click to enable audio” feature do not fall below the Better Ads Standards.
  • Prestitial Ads with Countdown – These ads typically require the user to wait a certain number of seconds before they can continue to the actual page content.
  • Large Sticky Ads – These ads will “stick around” by occupying the bottom third of a web page, and they do not go away no matter how much the user tries to scroll them out of existence.

Mobile Ad Experiences

In addition to the ad formats listed above for desktop, the following ad types are considered to be unacceptable according to Better Ads Standards:

  • Prestitial Ads without Countdown – This format is similar to prestitial ads with a countdown, but they remove any option for the user to dismiss the ad, or even to know when it’s going to end.
  • Ad Density Above 30 Percent – These ads occupy more than 30 percent of the vertical space of a smartphone screen.
  • Flashing Animated Ads – “Annoying” is the word that is often used to describe this ad format. Typical features include colors, text or background graphics that rapidly change.
  • Postitial Ads with Countdown – These ads typically display after a user clicks an outbound link, and they require the user to wait a given number of seconds before being redirected to another page. This format interrupts the transition from one web page to another.
  • Full-Screen Scrollover Ads – These ads basically “float” over the web page that the user is trying to visit, obscuring the content underneath. The user must perform a scrolling action to get the ad to go away.

Google’s plan to improve user experience, as part of Chrome’s new ad filtering initiative, Google plans to evaluate websites to determine whether or not they pass the acceptability metrics of the Better Ads Standards.

Site owners who are curious about where they stand with these changes can access Google’s evaluation results via a couple of handy tools: The Ad Experience API on the Google Developers portal, and the Ad Experience Report, which can be found in the Google Search Console. Sites that fall under Google’s microscope will be issued one of three ratings: Passing, Warning or Failing. If a website is found to be in violation of the Better Ads Standards, the site owner can address the problem areas and then request a reevaluation. If a site owner leaves repeated violations unaddressed for more than 30 days, Chrome will begin blocking all ads on their website.

More than likely, Chrome’s ad blocking initiative will draw the ire of many publishers and advertisers, but when you keep the big picture in mind, this could represent a step in the right direction. After all, providing a pleasant an engaging user experience is one of the keys to effective marketing, and with the help of these changes, the net effect should be positive for the industry as a whole.

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