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Must we fear Chrome’s new ad filter?

By Luc Marsolais,
SVP Business Operations
February 12th 2018

Last June, Google announced the integration of an ad-blocking technology into the newest version of Chrome, designed to block spammy and annoying ads, which made a lot of noise in the whole industry.

What is it?

While the term used is “ad-blocker”, it should rather be seen as an ad filter. Indeed, the Google initiative is not meant to block all ads, but rather filter the ones deemed intrusive by the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads.

When is it happening?

The initiative will go live on Thursday, February 15th, 2018.

From that point, Google will start auditing websites to check compliance with the new standards. Any website found non-compliant with the standards will be given a 30-day notice to rectify the violation(s) before the ads are filtered out.

Steps to get ready for Google Chrome’s ad filter

Here are the steps recommended by Google for publishers to ensure compliance with the new Chrome standards.

  1. Do your own audit
    The first step to ensure compliance is to do your own audit by checking your ad experience against the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads. To pass Google’s audit, you will have to ensure that no more than 30% of your page’s pixels are used by ads. You will also need to remove any ad spaces that Google is filtering out, like pop-ups, autoplay videos with audio, full screen rollovers and sticky ads that obstruct content.

  2. Submit your website for review with Ad Experience Report
    Once you’ve done your own audit, access Ad Experience Report to review your website’s compliance. You can do this step easily with your webmaster’s help. The tool allows you to review both desktop and mobile versions of the site. Once this is done, your report status will show “Success”, “Warning”, “Failed”, or “Unaudited”.

  3. Fix violations
    When you receive your website’s status, the report will list all the ads that infringe the standards as well as examples that were found on your site. Each infringement is followed by an explanation on how to fix the issue.

  4. Submit for another review
    Once all the non-compliant ad spaces are removed or improved, submit your website again for review with Ad Experience Report. You will need to explain how you fixed the violations before you submit it. Word of caution: You cannot endlessly submit your website for audit. This means step 1 and 3 need to be done thoroughly to avoid consequences once your website will be audited by Google.

What are the benefits of this initiative for the industry?

  • Decrease in ad blocking software usage

With ad-blocking being already such an issue in this industry, for both publishers and advertisers, it would seem counterproductive for Google to integrate this technology to its browser. But maybe it’s the opposite. By creating an environment where the user-experience with advertising is more seamless and less intrusive, the industry gains a chance at actually seeing a decrease in ad-blocking software usage. This means better monetization opportunities for publishers, but also better engagement for advertisers.

  • Clean unwanted supply

The initiative will de facto lead to cleaner supply and more premium ad spaces, meaning publishers’ inventory will become more valuable - good news for them. On the advertiser’s side, it may seem like they are getting the bad end of the deal.

However, by accessing premium placements and participating in a seamless ad experience for their audience, advertisers stand a better chance at creating a positive association with their brand. Plus, considering that over 50% of millennials in the U.S. are ad-block users, and that they are also the hardest generation to reach, putting the user-experience at the forefront of the industry will create an environment where it will be easier for advertisers to connect with them.

  • Healthier industry

The digital advertising industry as a whole is being challenged by this initiative, as non-compliance to these standards could have important consequences, especially for publishers.

But in the long run, we can see this decision as the first step towards a more structured, standardized industry that will favor stronger relationships between all parties - publishers and advertisers, but also publishers and their readers as well as advertisers and their audience.

It seems like the industry has so far been mainly focused on quantity as the main metric of success, but I think we are now heading to a new era where we will increasingly look at quality metrics, such as time spent on page, interaction with new ad formats and overall engagement of the consumer.

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