As of the 15th of February 2018, Google Chrome has officially enacted a native ad blocker patch to its client. It has essentially been done to rid the web of spammy ads, or those that don’t fall closely in line with Google’s guidelines for advertising. While the search engine giant is no stranger to continuously setting trends for best practices with advertising formats, this particular move has been received in a flurry of mixed opinions with some welcoming the enforcement of advertising regulations and others feeling that Google is taking charge of advertising principles that not all digital marketing institutions agree with.
The native ad blocker is supposed to enforce advertising guidelines as they have been set out by the Coalition for Better Ads, an institution which is made up of over 100 major tech firms; except that the ad formats considered acceptable by the blocker, are only those set out by Google. This has brought to light a conflict of interests between the members and affiliates of the coalition, but also shows Google being one of the few who are stepping up and enforcing the principles for which the coalition stands.
Though if browsers such as Opera or Firefox had to implement a similar approach to ad control and regulation, there would likely be less of a buzz around the topic, so what is it that makes Google Chrome have such an impact in this regard? The answer is a fairly straightforward one, Chrome controls over 53% of the browser market share, meaning the changes that they implement will have the greatest impact on how content on the web is used and consumed.
How Exactly Does It Work?
The ad blocker works quite simply and does so in line with already established regulations for online advertisers as set out by Google. In doing so, any ad on any website that does not meet the stringent standards of format and structure as they are laid out by Google will simply not be displayed when the site is visited using Google Chrome. While some are pleased with this regulation, any advertiser not using Google’s formats will simply have their ads removed from sites, without prior warning, and will only notice something is wrong when going through their metrics.
What Does this Mean for Consumers?
By and large, consumers who have been keeping their finger on the pulse have welcomed the change since it has, for them, done exactly what it had set out to do. That is to say that it has raised the user experience of surfing the web substantially by tidying it up and removing ads that would otherwise annoy users. These include pop-ups that take up the entire screen or those that are deemed annoying or intrusive.
How this Affects Businesses and Advertisers?
Advertisers and businesses, on the other hand, have not been as welcoming of the new feature, and arguably for good reasons. Though Google has attempted to work closely with publishers through the implementation of this feature so as not to surprise anyone with it, not everybody was prepared on the 15th when the feature came online; resulting in many paid-for adverts simply not being displayed, essentially costing marketers and businesses unnecessary money.
A further feature of the ad blocker is perhaps more worrying to marketers and website owners. According to the ad blocker, pages that fly even one ad that doesn’t meet the format standards set out by Google, will have all ads on the page blocked, even those that do meet the requirements. This puts a lot of pressure on them to stick to rigid formats and structures when setting up ads, with literally no room for error.
An Unlevelled Playing Field
Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of criticism that this feature has received is that it seems to create an uneven playing field for marketers and tech institutions (particularly those representing the Coalition for Better Ads who are not Google). Their argument is that by setting up their own guidelines and enforcing them, that Google has not addressed any of their own acceptable formats which might be seen as imposing or annoying to users. The most commonly cited example of this is the short video-ad that plays before YouTube videos. Though while this is seen by competitors as unfair, there is no denying the effectiveness of video ad campaigns, the leads and revenue they generate, as well as the fairly stringent regulations that keeps their creation in check.
Google’s Guidelines for Ads
Since this seems to be ushering in a new era of ad regulation, agencies and businesses need to make sure that they are completely familiar with the ad guidelines set out by Google, these pointers should therefore be followed as closely as possible:
• Animations in image ads should be no longer than 30 seconds, even shorter ones that are looped.
• Image quality must adhere to AdWords standards, meaning that they:
o Must be correctly orientated (not be sideways, upside down or take up too much space).
o Must not be blurred or unclear, or contain unreadable text.
o Should not use distracting strategies like strobing or flashing
o Should not expand past their frames or encroach on an app or website
• All information should be relevant to what is being advertised.
• All information provided must be accurate and descriptive, and in no instances should be misleading.
• Image ads should not contain any adult-oriented content to ensure that they are relevant and safe for all users.
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