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Google comes down hard on bad ads to fight ad blockers

Google Chrome will remove ads from websites that do not adhere to the “Better Ads Standards” developed by the Coalition for Better Ads for desktop and mobile web.

Depending on the number of violations of the Better Ads Standards found on the website, it will be evaluated as having a status of “Passing”, “Warning” or “Failing” in the Ad Experience Report. Ads with a “Failing” status in the report for over 30 days will be removed. Website owners can also request that they be re-reviewed after addressing the non-compliant ad experiences.

According to Google, the Better Ads Standards will evaluate how well websites comply with the standard, inform websites of any issues encountered and offer the opportunity for websites to address identified issues. When a Chrome user navigates to a web page, its ad filter will check if that page belongs to a site that fails the Better Ads Standards. In a statement to Marketing, Google’s spokesperson said Better Ads Standards currently only covers North America and Europe.

According to the video above by Google, “frustrating ads can lead to people downloading ad blockers. When that happens, publishers can’t make money.”

“People don’t hate all ads. Just the annoying ones,” it said.  The move follows a survey conducted by Coalition for Better Ads on more than 40,000 internet users in North America and Europe last year, which found that the most intrusive ad experiences include full-page ads that block users from seeing the page’s content and flashing animated ads. Marketing has reached out to Google on the initiative being launched in Asia.

In a separate blog post, Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, VP, Chrome, said its users’ experiences on the web is a “higher priority” than the revenue that those “annoying ads” may generate. Google added that as of 12 February, 42% of the sites which were failing Better Ads Standards have resolved their issues and are now rated as “Passing”.

In a statement to Marketing, Stephan Loerke, CEO, World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), welcomed the move and called upon other industry partners to embrace the Better Ads Standards. He described this as a “first significant step in what will be a long-term effort”. As one of the co-founders of the Coalition for Better Ads, Loerke said WFA believes that delivering a better user experience is an essential part of rebuilding the trust in online advertisement. He added:

If we fail to do this as an industry, ad-blocking will rise and everyone will lose.

“Consumers will have access to less content, advertisers will find it harder to get their messages across and publishers will find it more difficult to attract revenue to fund content creation,” Loerke said.

On the other hand, Niall Hogan, managing director, Southeast Asia, Integral Ad Science (IAS), is of the view that while the looming ad death penalty may have initially shocked some publishers, in reality, Google’s new initiative should have “minimal impact” on the industry. “Publishers have had more than enough notice to become compliant to the new standards, and one or two rogue ads isn’t enough to kill a publisher,” Hogan said. He added:

I think it’s more likely that Google are after blatant offenders.

Nonetheless, Hogan said that Google Chrome’s initiative to implement the Better Ads Standards helps in substantiating the industry’s need for better ad experiences focused on consumer versus impression, a topic that is central to IAS in 2018.

Meanwhile, industry professionals from media agencies Marketing spoke to lauded the move by Google. Simon Talvard-Balland, head of digital solutions, IPG Mediabrands said Google’s updated policy contributes to a more healthy and transparent ecosystem for everybody to use.

“Interestingly enough, this announcement occurs two days after Keith Weed, Unilever CMO, tells Facebook and Google to clean up online ‘swamp’ or it will pull ads, highlighting ongoing concerns about ad placement quality within the garden walls of the two giants,” he said.

Desh Balakrishnan, MD, Wavemaker Singapore, also agreed that it is a positive move by Google in the wake of concerns on brand safety and viewability standards, measures and accountability of marketers and agencies.

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