Google recently confirmed that its Chrome browser will soon automatically block “annoying” ads. However, Google is not calling this update an ad blocker, rather it’s a “filter” that gets rid of the ads consumers dislike. Google Chrome is currently the most popular browser for both mobile and desktop, which means this shift will shake up the entire online advertising ecosystem.
“We’ve all known for a while that the ad experience is a real problem, and that it’s confused and angered users,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior VP of ads and commerce at Google, to Ad Age. “We realized solutions like ad blockers punish everybody, including publishers who develop great content and are thoughtful about the ad experience they put on their site.”
Chrome’s ad filter is also an attempt to limit ad blocking on mobile devices. Currently, there is only a 1% adoption rate of ad blocking mobile devices, but the continuation of annoying ads could drive mobile down the same road as desktop – something the Coalition hopes to avoid. Ad blocking adoption presently sits at 18% for desktop, and is up 17% year over year across devices.
What Could Have Influenced Google’s Ad Filter?
The move by Google comes as a result of the Coalition for Better Ads work on developing the Better Ads Standard. Members of the organization include Google, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, WPP’s GroupM, Facebook, Thomson Reuters, The Washington Post, The interactive Advertising Bureau and the Association of National Advertisers.
Four desktop ad formats and eight mobile ad formats (pictured below) were deemed “annoying,” including pop-ups, prestitial ads, ads that flash quickly and change color, and large banner ads. The Coalition paid more than 25,000 study participants across the United States and Europe to rate 104 different ad types on both desktop and mobile. The results from the study influenced Chrome’s new filter.
Photo Source: Coalition for Better Ads
What Now For Publishers and Their Ads?
Publishers do have the option to give users an ad-free experience with “Funding Choices,” which essentially places site content behind a paywall, similar to how current subscription services work. This could present some issues for publishers, though, as many users have become accustomed to getting most online content for free in exchange for sitting through an ad. If Google and other tech companies who dictate these terms force users to choose between paying a monthly fee or not reading content, readership could decline.
Publishers can see how they are affected by the new filter through Google’s “Ad Experience Report.” The API helps developers and brands identify ad experiences that violate standards or offer egregious experiences. If sites do violate any standards, the report may identify the issues that need to be addressed. Sites can be re-reviewed after issues are fixed.
/ What This Means for Marketers
The new features will be fully rolled out in early 2018. Start looking at ad experiences and content now to avoid being penalized once the rollout is complete. The rise of traditional ad blockers was a valid response to publishers and advertisers creating negative user experiences. It is the responsibility of these parties to create positive experiences for users to keep them coming back. Consider this latest update an extra incentive to do so.
Review Ad Inventory
First, marketers and publishers need to look at their ad inventory to see if they have any ads in the filtered format. Also, they should look at their ad sales, bid model, tech partners, and page layouts. Adjustments might need to be made with vendors, and pages may need to be redesigned.
Could Reduce Any Ad Fraud
Next, the update could reduce ad fraud for marketers and publishers by placing fewer pop-ups and interstitial ads – that are often subject to fraud – in front of bots. Non-human bot traffic and clicks cause advertisers to waste billions of dollars on ad spend. It’s predicted that $16.4 billion will be lost on a global scale to ad fraud in 2017. In 2016, nearly 20% of total digital ad spend was wasted.
Native + Social Ads Could Benefit
Additionally, native and social advertising could benefit from the change. If the traditional paid advertising ecosystem is shaken up, platforms that don’t have to worry about Google Chrome’s technical ad restrictions (social networks, for example), may receive more investment from advertisers in the short-term. It certainly will create a period of uncertainty with traditional display executions.
Google Recognizes Future of Online Advertising
Lastly, this update could also hint at Google recognizing the future of online advertising and dictating things on their own terms – limiting unpleasant paid experiences while concurrently ramping up native offerings.
IMAGE SOURCE: Google