Ads are an ingrained part of the online experience, and Google knows this better than anyone — they brought in over $115 billion in ad revenue over the course of 2017. But Google also has a vested interest in keeping people happy with their internet experience.
Google knows that not all online ads are created equal. Some ads sit quietly in the sidebar of the site you’re on, but some are much more disruptive and annoying. We’re talking about the type of ads that pop up in front of the content you want to see, play music as soon as you load the page, or make you sit through a long interstitial before you can see content.
In 2017, a survey of people who use ad blockers found that 49 percent of them did so because ads were “annoying or irrelevant,” and 40% found online ads “intrusive.” Another survey from 2016, conducted by Google, found that 69% of users installed ad blockers because of annoying or intrusive ads.
What Ad-Blocking Means For Advertisers
Ads that are relevant and non-intrusive can be helpful, notifying users of something that might interest them. When a visitor clicks on that ad, the website gets paid. But when ads get worse, everyone suffers. Visitors get annoyed and stop seeing the utility in the ads they’re served, so they block all ads — useful ones too. That means click rates go down, revenue drops, and content providers can’t afford to keep up their sites.
In February 2018, Google launched its own ad blocker within its browser, Chrome, with the stated goal of “building a better web for everyone.” The new blocker will stop showing non-compliant ads on all sites, even those owned and served by Google, on sites worldwide in July of 2019.
Why does that matter for you? Because Chrome currently holds 62 percent of worldwide market share — more than four times higher than Safari, the second most-popular. If you’re serving ads online, the chances are good that they’re being seen on Chrome. Like it or not, Google is the main highway to the internet.
What Kinds Of Ads Should I Be Worried About?
The ads on Google’s new naughty list are based on feedback from over 66,000 global consumers and the Coalition for Better Ads, and include four different forms of desktop ads and eight mobile ads. If you keep using these, you’ll suffer penalties to your site traffic.
On desktop sites, Google will start to penalize prestitial ads with a countdown. This type of ad appears before the page content loads, so users have to wait for the ad to expire before they can use the page. Web users are impatient people — they might not even wait for the ad to finish before clicking away to a different site.
Pop-up ads that cover the main content of the page after the content begins loading are out too, as are so-called “sticky” ads that take up more than 30% of the page and stay stuck to the bottom of the screen even when the user scrolls.
On mobile, the same standards apply, along with a few other examples of inline ads that generally only appear on mobile devices. You can find the full list of detailed standards here, but the gist of the new standards is what inline marketers have been saying for years — ads don’t turn visitors into leads if they’re annoying.
Getting Your Site Ready For New Standards
Hopefully, you’re already not using many of these formats — irritating ads aren’t helping you anyway. These ad formats all interrupt, distract, or clutter a user’s web browsing experience, and you’re better off without them.
Lucky for you, Google has an Ad Experience Report Tool you can right your site through. It’ll tell you which of your ads make the cut and which are more likely to annoy than appeal. Now’s the time to start reviewing your site, so you can revise or remove any ads which violate the ad guidelines. That way you’ll be ready when the new standards roll around in July.