google chrome ad filtering

If you have not heard about Google Chrome blocking some ads starting on February 15th, don’t panic yet! This is not an ad-blocker in the spirit of some of the extensions available for Chrome, Firefox or other web browsers.

Instead, Google wants to filter out some of the most offending ads. It outlined its intentions in a blog post back in June 2017.

The goal is only to display ads that meet the Better Ads Standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. This is an industry group focused on improving user experiences with advertising.

The Survey

The Coalition for Better Ads surveyed of over 40,000 internet users in North America and Europe. They asked participants to evaluate and rank various ad types.

The survey group was shown 55 desktop ad and 49 mobile web ad experiences for their evaluation. It also asked which ad experiences would likely cause users to look for ad-blockers to install on their browser.

Mobile Ads Worst Ad Experiences:

  • Pop-up ads
  • Prestitial ads
  • Mobile pages with more than 30% ad density
  • Flashing animations
  • Poststitial ads that require a countdown to dismiss
  • Fullscreen scrollover ads
  • Large sticky ads
  • Auto-playing videos with sound

Desktop Ads Worst Experiences:

  • Pop-up ads
  • Auto-playing videos with sound
  • Prestitial ads with a countdown
  • Large sticky ads

The full results of both surveys are available in PDF Format in our links here. (Mobile / Desktop)

Evaluating the graphics, it becomes pretty clear which ads users hate and which ones they tolerate. And it is likely in line how most of us feel about digital advertising.

Thus, it is no surprise the current version of the Better Ads Standard pretty much addresses the most egregious ad experiences.

Google’s Approach

In many instances, the advertisements themselves do not violate the Better Ads Standards. But, it is the site owner’s use of the advertising that may be the real problem.

As a result, Google has developed a plan to tackle the issue within the browser, but also provide information to site owners that are serving the ads.

Sites are evaluated by examining a sample of pages. The evaluation will categorize sites into three grades, Passing, Warning, or Failing.

Site owners are notified through the Google Search Console of their grade. At this point, owners can adjust their non-compliant ads and request a re-evaluation.

On the browser end, Chrome will check if the page belongs to a list of sites that has a failing grade. It then checks the page for known ad-related patterns or URLs, and if there is a match, blocks the advertising.

What This Means to eCommerce Merchants

eCommerce businesses may be affected by the new Google ad filtering in several ways.

Online merchants that run banner ads or other advertising on their site promoting sales or products could see their ads blocked if they fail the Better Ads Standards.

Sellers may check their site’s status in the Google Search Console. Should it show violations, it is best to fix them quickly. Afterall, what is the point of ads to promote products or sales if they are not shown to users?

But, more critical is that online retailers check ads served on other sites.

As stated before, most ads themselves are not violating the ad standard. But they may be served on a site that has a failing grade.

An advertiser’s advert could end up not being shown because it is part of a URL pattern match over which the advertiser has no control. Is the system that serves the ads smart enough to realize it is being blocked and is not “charging” for the impression?

Besides the advertising accounting issue, if impressions dramatically fall because of ad filtering, weeks or months of a campaign were wasted. The advertiser may think there was a problem with the campaign when in reality there was a problem with serving the ads.

That is why evaluating where ads are served may be the most important consideration for eCommerce merchants. It could require a change in campaign strategies.

And finally, if the creative violates the Betters Ads Standards, it is imperative for the advertiser to fix that now.

Site owners may pull non-compliant advertising if they receive a warning or failed grade from Google. This is important to publishers as they protect their revenue stream and impact on other advertisers.

eCommerce SMEs and More Reading

This new Google ad filtering is going to take a few months to sort out. For most eCommerce businesses this is about as good of a time as there can be for such a change.

Small business eCommerce merchants should look at their traffic logs for unusual downturn patterns. Evaluate all directly placed advertising and especially adverts on the merchant’s own site.

A little due diligence now should avoid any big surprises during busy sales periods such as the holiday season.

Google offers more information on this subject here.

Advertisers may also wish to read Thomas Maier’s blog post on Google’s ad filtering. His WordPress ad extensions are very popular with site owners. And he operates a consultancy for small business advertising optimization. It’s good insight from someone whose businesses depends on understanding what Google is doing.

We’d like to hear your thoughts about how this may impact your business and if you have to make any changes to your ad strategy. Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below.

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