How Will Chrome’s New Ad Blocker Impact Your Ads?
The short version: it won’t!
On February 15th, Google is set to launch a more robust ad filter for Chrome. Its goal is simple: to scrub the web of interstitial riff raff and other invasive advertising experiences. Now, advertisers have stared down the barrel of the almighty ad blocker before (and most lived to tell the tale), but this is the first ad blocker baked directly into the most popular browser on the planet.
It would appear that the primary purpose of this fright-inducing new feature is to combat and eradicate poor mobile browsing experiences. This aligns with other recent Google innovations, like, say, the AMP Stories we talked about earlier in the week and the so-called Speed Update.
Here’s what the new Chrome ad filter is actually going to do (and how it’s going to do it).
Why is Google Releasing an Ad Filter for Chrome?
Per Google, “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive.” While third-party tools have been banging this drum for a minute now, Google’s finally decided to work its own solution directly into its browser. Google’s blog post on the new ad filter update goes on to state that, more often than not, the problems stem from issues with ad delivery on third-party sites, not the advertisements (and by extension, the advertisers) themselves.
Google’s shiny new ad blocker is a product of some extensive research conducted by the Coalition for Better Ads (an altruistic watchdog group that combats heinous browsing experiences), specifically, a survey that polled 40,000 internet users and inquired as to which advertisements they felt most impeded their ability to do everything from online shopping to to inhaling spicy takes.
As you can imagine, the Coalition’s research revealed that distracting flash-animated banner ads, autoplaying video pop-ups, and those absolutely dreadful full-page monstrosities that make browsing completely impossible are some of the greatest offenders. That being said, there are plenty of other culprits that the filter will work to root out.
How Will Chrome’s Ad Blocker Work?
This is a bit over my head, but here’s my understanding of it...
Chrome’s ad blocker is all about pattern matching. There isn’t a little dude in a bunker checking out pages in search of awful browsing experiences. Instead, the filter cross-references websites against a list of sites known to fail the Better Ad Standards.
A site’s inclusion on the list is determined by an evaluation process. Sample pages are reviewed and, depending on the number of violations uncovered, the site is assigned a status: Pass, Warning, or Fail.
For those browsing on a desktop, ad block notifications will look as they currently do on Chrome; if you’re using an Android device, you’ll see a message bar at the bottom of your browser that looks something like this:
Let’s take a closer look at the types of ads that Google has deemed problematic.
Ad Blocker: Desktop Edition
In keeping with the general theme of mobile centricity (from mobile-first rankings to page speed updates designed to improve site experience on hand-held devices), it makes complete sense that Chrome’s new ad blocker doesn’t do much to kill bad ads on desktop.
That being said, the Coalition for Better Ads has identified the following desktop ad experiences as problematic:
- Pop-Up Ads
- Auto-Playing Video with Sound
- Prestitial Ads with Countdown
- Large Sticky Ads
If you’ve ever had the unfortunate luck to come across one of these suckers, you know how annoying they are. I’m particularly stoked that large, sticky ads have been deemed too disruptive to exist; you can click out of a pop-up, but without an ad blocker there’s no way to escape a big stupid bar that follows you as you read.
Ad Blocker: Mobile Edition
And now for the piece de resistance...
As you can see in the diagram above, Google’s focus on cleaning up the mobile browsing experience is glaring. The ad formats that the Coalition for Better Ads and Google deem bothersome enough to block on mobile devices moving forward are as follows:
- Pop-Up Ads
- Prestitial Ads
- Ad Density Higher than 30%
- Flashing Animated Ads
- Auto-Playing Video Ads with Sound
- Postitial Ads with Countdown
- Full-Screen Scrollover Ads
- Large Sticky Ads
Outside of preroll/midroll video ads, inoffensive banner creative, native ads, advertorials, and, of course, search ads, sites that host ads will now be pretty restricted in their ability to serve up valuable on-screen real estate to paying customers.
Will Chrome’s Ad Blocker Impact Your Paid Search & Social Advertising?
Chrome’s ad blocker will not interrupt your paid search advertising in the slightest (unless Google’s willing to call a handful of ads on a mobile SERP 30% saturation. Somehow, I don’t see that happening). If you’re prospecting or remarketing on the Display Network, it’s possible that your ads will be blocked due to issues with your placements; a site serving too many ads via AdSense could very well be penalized, but you won’t be forced to pay for their indiscretion.
This is due to the fact that Google has not made its own network exempt from the pattern-scanning that underpins Chrome’s ad blocker. It’s also worth noting that, at this time, there’s no way for you to view a potential ad placement's pass/warning/fail status and use that information to exclude non-compliant sites.
Now, if you use AdSense to generate revenue on your site by hosting Display ads, you’re going to want to ensure that you don’t have banners all over the screen (particularly on mobile devices).
In terms of other ads you might be running on your website (those you sell privately or are affiliated with another programmatic network), you can use the new and improved Google Search Console to view your site’s Ad Experience Report. If you’ve got beef, you can hit Google with a request for a re-review. Provided you remedy what Chrome has deemed non-compliant, you should be fine to run ads moving forward.