Google Ad Filtering: Is Your Site Compliant?

Tarang Agarwal, Product Manager

Tarang Agarwal, Product Manager

In the world of ecommerce, online advertising has become quite commonplace. Marketers depend on it for strengthening brand awareness and recognition, as well as generating additional revenue. But there’s a fine line between getting your name out there with a tasteful ad and intruding on a user’s online experience with an ad that disrupts browsing or delays their access to content.

Thanks to increasing complaints from users, Google announced last year it would attempt to protect site visitors from intrusive ads by blocking them in the browser. They based their plan on research conducted by the Coalition for Better Ads, which in its first stage, surveyed more than 25,000 internet users in North America and Europe about their preferences for various types of online ads ­– both desktop and mobile. Their results helped the coalition develop the Better Ads Standards, which identify the least preferred and most annoying ad experiences most likely to cause consumers to adopt ad blockers.

Per the survey, the most intrusive ad experiences include prestitial ads (ads that vary in size from full-screen to part of the screen and prevent users from getting to the main content) and flashing animated ads (ads that animate and “flash” with rapidly changing background, text or colors that serve to create a severe distraction for consumers as they attempt to read the content on a given page). They noted that animations that do not “flash” did not fall beneath the initial Better Ads Standard.

Additionally, the research showed that pop-up ads (a type of interstitial that pops up and blocks the main content of a page) also fell into the least preferred category and are often seen as intrusive by consumers in both desktop and mobile experiences. But marketers have discovered that pop-ups are low-cost, highly efficient tools for growing your contact list and connecting with your site visitors once they’ve left your site. So what does this mean for you?

How Ad Filtering Can Affect You

Based on the Better Ads Standards, Google Chrome developed its plan to protect users from intrusive ad experiences. As of February 15, it evaluates how well sites comply with the standards, informs the sites of any issues, provides an opportunity for sites to address the issues and ultimately removes ads from sites that continue to feature problematic ads. Based on the number of violations, sites will be designated as Passing, Warning or Failing. Those out of compliance will have 30 days to make the necessary changes after which Chrome will start blocking non-compliant ads.

If your ads are blocked, users will see a message similar to Chrome’s existing pop-up blocker notifying them of the action taken by Chrome and offering an option to allow ads on the site.

How to Avoid Compliance Issues

If you display any kind of ad, you could end up facing issues related to this new ad filtering policy. To avoid being dinged by Google as non-compliant, take a look at your site now and evaluate it according to the Better Ads Standards. You can access your site’s evaluation status via the Ad Experience Report API. Site owners can also review violations through the Ad Experience Report in Google’s Search Console. Owners can also submit a request for re-review through this site, once the non-compliant ad experiences have been resolved.

For those using pop-ups, you might reconsider its design. Can you use a different format to get your message out there without alienating or frustrating your visitors? Bronto users could opt for the Dynamic Ribbon to create less intrusive pop-ups that are able to float at the top or bottom of the page and trigger a pop-up when users want to see it. And if Google Chrome does identify your pop-ups deployed via Pop-Up Manager as non-compliant, notify us right away. Your feedback will be very helpful in investigating potential changes to our products.

Ultimately, the goal of both the coalition and Chrome is to protect users from experiencing intrusive ads and generally improve the user experience for everyone. So take their findings to heart, and use this as an opportunity to optimize your customer experience. By rethinking your ad strategy and being creative with your tactics, you just might encourage shoppers to spend more time on your site and take in more of what your brand has to offer.