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Google Chrome’s built-in ad blocker: is your creative up to the mark?

Google Chrome’s built-in ad blocker: is your creative up to the mark?

Back in 2017, Google revealed it would be integrating an ad blocker into Chrome to help block “bad ads” in a bid to cut down on spammy and intrusive advertising. It’s fair to say Google hasn’t held back on letting users know about the planned updates, but now we finally know when D-day will be. And the 15th of February is no longer in the distant future.

But, before we all start to panic…

What constitutes a “bad ad” according to Google?

Google’s ad blocker will be using the Coalition for Better Ads’ initial Better Ads Standards for desktop web and mobile web for North America and Europe, which has been created based on comprehensive research involving more than 25,000 consumers. The blocker won’t be targeting all ads. But, full-page ads, flashing ads and ads with autoplaying sound and video will all be in the firing line. Here are some of the key no-nos, for both desktop and mobile, highlighted by the Better Ads Standards:

  • Pop-up Ads – if it pops up and blocks the content on a page, don’t do it. These types of ads (whether they partially block the screen or block the whole screen) have been cited amongst the most common annoyances for website visitors.
  • Don’t assume users want to hear your ad as soon as they visit a page – Autoplaying Video Ads that play sound without any user interaction are a huge no-no unless of course, you invite the user to initiate the audio themselves.
  • Prestitial and Postitial Ads with countdowns – if a user visits a page but has to wait before they can minimise a huge ad or be redirected, it’s more than likely the user won’t wait, making these types of ads a no-go too.
  • Ad density higher than 30%? Don’t even try it. These ads (mostly large Sticky Ads or Full-screen Scrollover Ads) obscure too much of the screen’s real estate, making the simple act of browsing content confusing.
  • Flashing Animated Ads – using animated ads that flash with different backgrounds and colours are aggravating and distracting for users. So it’s no surprise no one likes these either.

Websites that fail to meet these standards for 30 days will have all of their ads blocked by Google, but not before they are notified of any potential blocking via Google’s Ad Experience Report tool.

And if your ads are blocked, you’ll have to submit for manual review once you’ve removed the “bad ads” in question – not an ideal situation to have to deal with amid precious student recruitment campaigns, especially when we all know “manual review” is code for “not likely to be resolved quickly”.

So, what does this mean for your advertising?

It means you need better ad experiences. Better creative. Better data. Better targeting. And a better understanding of your audience.

It may come as a surprise, but as an advertising agency, we love ad blocking – something we’ve not been afraid to mention before. And Google’s drive for better ad experiences and creative is not something we’re going to shy away from now. Quite the opposite in fact…

We caught up with Net Natives’ Creative Director, Charlie Penrose to hear his take on Google’s ad blocker and why it’s so important for your creative to be up to the mark:

This sounds like all doom and gloom for creativity in display advertising with such a long list of don’ts, but it’s not – it’s quite the opposite. Rich media – video, interactivity, full screen, all these things are still possible, but you need to invite the user to make the choice to hear your video or to let your ad take over their screen. That all starts with a compelling message and visual – give them reason enough to engage and they will. It means that poorly thought out, poorly executed creative can’t bully its way into view, but ads that deserve attention and fight fairly for it will get it.

Options like Lightbox ads are invitational – they sit in a regular ad spot and invite the user to engage, to explore a rich experience full of videos, interactive elements, images, maps and more, much like this example from Mercedes. They’re brilliant and not intrusive at all. Or a Backdrop and Billboard combo like this stunning example for Minority Report. It’s big and beautiful, but the video’s elements are invitational and invite you in with subtly responsive motion.

So what this really means is that just like all advertising, if you know your audience and you have beautifully crafted, compelling content that deserves their attention then you will get it. And that’s the challenge I love!

If you’d like to speak to our experts about how you can ensure your creative is up to the mark or for any other queries on how to create the best ad experiences for your audience, get in touch.

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