It’s big news for publishers that from February 15th 2018, Chrome ad blocking will go live & start blocking ads from displaying on sites that it give users a “bad ad experience”. Some publishers see this as the latest in a long series of attacks on the ad-funded publishing business model, others are relieved to see Google taking an overdue stand in the ad-blocking battle. Whatever your take on the change, it’s coming and with Chrome having over 60% market share it is going to have impact.
To help you prepare, here is our guide to what is happening and what we think publishers need to know. (If we don’t answer your question, ask it in the comments below).
Why do Google (an advertising company) want to block ads?
Google generated close to $80bn revenue through advertising in 2016, so at first glance, it seems self destructive for Google to introduce native ad blocking into the world’s most popular web browser. It is however a move that aims to strengthen the ad ecosystem and protect ad revenues.
Research by the Coalition for Better Ads shows that users are driven to install ad blockers by the most annoying of ads. Once installed the blockers, of course, do their best to block all ads on all websites rather than just those that caused those most annoyance. The result is that all publishers get punished.
By (heavily) discouraging so-called “bad ads”, Google seems to be betting on reducing demand for ad blockers in order to strengthen the ad ecosystem.
Who decides what is a “bad ad experience”?
The bad experiences being targeted are those that were identified by the Coalition for Better Ads research. This tested and surveyed 25,000 web users from North America and Europe with the aim of identifying the bad experiences that lead users to adopt ad blocking
Are Google just blocking competitor ads?
No, if they block ads on a site then all ads are blocked for Chrome users on that website. That would include blocking Google ads on that site.
Will I know if Chrome ad blocking is blocking ads on my website?
As long as you have the website registered in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), then yes. Sites identified as having bad ad experiences will be notified via Search Console and given 30 days to remedy before ads are blocked.
What ads will trigger this?
The issues that trigger the bad ad experience warning differ between desktop and mobile. At time of writing they are:
- Pop-up and prestitial ads
- Autoplaying video ads with sound
- Overall ad density > 30% of page
- Flashing animated ads
- Positional ads with countdown
- Full-screen scroll over ads
- Sticky ads taking up more than 30% of the screen
Each of these points is explained in more details on this page in the help centre.
What will users see when ads are blocked by Chrome
When Chrome users visit a site affected by the blocker, they will be alerted that ads are being blocked on that site. The image below shows how this looks on Mobile. By clicking the “Details” link, users are presented with an explanation together with a link to more about intrusive ads. This second screen also allows users to enable ads for that website, locally bypassing the ad blocking.