How Can Websites Avoid Falling Foul Of Google’s Ad-Blocker?

How Can Websites Avoid Falling Foul Of Google's Ad-Blocker?

Photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash

Late last year, Google introduced new search penalties for mobile sites that display intrusive advertising, signaling the search giant’s unwillingness to send users to mobile sites that offer a poor experience. This June, Google announced that it was going a step further in its battle against intrusive advertising with the addition of an ad blocker to Google Chrome. The ad blocker — which Google is calling an ad filter — won’t block all advertising, just advertising that Google, as part of the Coalition for Better Ads, deems unacceptable.

It might seem surprising that a company that makes so much money from advertising is releasing an ad blocker, but the strategy has clear advantages to Google. By blocking intrusive advertising, Google neuters a number of competing advertising networks that aren’t so particular about user experience. And, if the most intrusive advertising is blocked, there’s less incentive for web users to turn to software that blocks all advertising, including Google’s non-intrusive advertising.

Google Chrome is the most popular web browser, and if server hosting clients want their advertising to remain effective, they should at the least familiarize themselves with the sort of advertising that Chrome will block from next year.

Most of us intuitively understand what’s meant by disruptive advertising. Any one who uses the web experiences daily annoyance caused by advertising that seems designed to obscure content or disrupt our intended activity. In fact, it doesn’t just seem that way: the ads are designed to distract and capture our attention. That’s their value to advertisers.

Interstitial advertising with a countdown is perhaps the paradigmatic example of a disruptive advertising strategy. Head on over to Forbes if you’re unaware what interstitial advertising looks like. The user clicks on a link in the expectation that they’ll be presented with content they’re interested in, and instead they get to twiddle their thumbs for ten seconds.

Auto-play videos are also on the list of advertising that publishers might want to avoid. Auto-play video is probably the most loathed of all advertising strategies, and its days would be numbered even if Google didn’t plan block it. Some browsers try to stop videos and audio from playing automatically, including Safari once version 11 is released this summer.

You can see a complete list of the advertising that the Coalition for Acceptable Ads wants to wipe from the face of the web in the Initial Better Ads Standards.

So what does Google consider acceptable advertising? Essentially anything that doesn’t interrupt, distract, or clutter the web page. For example, instead of using interstitial advertising on mobile websites, Google suggests full-page in-content advertising. The screen real estate taken by the advertising is the same, but it doesn’t obscure or block content the user is interested in.

There’s a considerable difference between what’s considered annoying on mobile and desktop. From Google’s survey, it appears that sticky ads at the bottom of pages visited in desktop browsers are hugely annoying, but sticky ads on the bottom of pages visited with a mobile browser are not annoying at all. Personally, I’m not a fan of either, but starting in 2018, it’s Google’s opinion that governs what what users see.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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