Everything you need to know about the new Google ad filter

Google is waging a battle on ‘annoying’ ads. On 15 February, the tech giant launched its new Google ad filter on the Chrome web browser, which means no more ‘irritating’ promotional material — including advertorial autoplay audio videos, pop-up content, or large banners that won’t go away.

The move came after extensive research into which ads annoy people the most in order to boost the online experience for Google users. Although this sounds positive from a user perspective, it could be a headache for online publishers.

With recent statistics showing that Google Chrome has a 58% web browser market share, this new feature promises to have a significant impact on how businesses advertise and promote themselves. Here, we look at how this new Google ad filter feature works, why they have implemented it and how it might affect site publishers.

How the new Google ad filter feature works

The new Google ad filter feature isn’t an updated ad blocker, like AdBlock Plus, nor is it designed to block all ads. It’s a built-in feature created to find and ban ads that do not comply with standards outlined by the Coalition for Better Ads.

So, how do the features work? First, they will analyse a sample of a site’s pages to determine whether it is complying with the Coalition for Better Ads guidelines. A site will then receive either a pass, fail or warning — depending on the amount of violations — which will be documented in Google’s Ad Experiences Report. You can review this report to gauge how your site is performing and are then given 30 days to rectify any issues and ask for another review. What happens if this isn’t carried out in the given timeframe? Google will block every ad on your site — which can have significant repercussions for commercial businesses.

Why Google has launched an anti-ad campaign

Basically, Google wanted to eradicate the ‘annoying ad’ experience in order to achieve a better UX and improve the overall quality of web ads. The tech company is renowned for its responsivity, and the growing number of adblocker users has forced it to make a change.

Not only is Google thinking of the user, but it is also considering the marketing performance of the site. If a growing number of people are using universal adblockers, then they also won’t be engaging with quality ads that can increase revenue.

Kelsey LeBeau, Google product manager, said: “It [the use of universal adblockers] hasn’t gotten any better and it’s still starting to climb, but the problem is they [users] don’t know what they’re missing in a way. If it isn’t addressed, it could continue to chip away at the revenue that publishers expect”.

While this new Chrome feature may sound like a pain, it could in fact boost your marketing ROI — as long as you receive a ‘pass’ from Google, of course.

How this will affect site publishers

This isn’t simply a new ad blocker — this is Google’s way of banning all ‘irritating’ ads from our Chrome browsers. From now on, users will be alerted if the new ad-blocking feature is being implemented on a site when they visit, which may come in the form of a message in the address box or at the bottom of the screen, depending on the device.

What many of us are asking is: what type of ads will be blocked? According to a document from the Coalition for Better Ads, there are 12 ads that Google’s new feature is trying to detect and stop, including: pop-up ads, prestitial ads with a countdown, flashing animated ads, and full-screen scrollover ads.

Sounds positive for commerce if it improves a user’s experience and keeps them active online for longer, right? There’s a catch, though: if Google’s new feature detects that a site is not adhering to its drive for less annoying ads (i.e. the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads), it will block all ads on the site — not only the irritating, noncompliant ones. This also includes ads bought on Google’s AdWords and those served through DoubleClick.

Therefore, it’s essential that you understand which ads are in the firing line and amend your marketing strategy accordingly. Plus, with news that Google is being particularly hostile towards mobile ads, any business with a mobile responsive site must take extra care.

Try not to panic though — even sites that have been reviewed and told they are ‘failing’ can turn it around. According to Google, 42% of failing sites are now ‘passing’ as of 12 February. Plus, you have a grace period in order to get your ads in line with new standards.

LeBeau said: “We’re being very careful to ensure that we’re only identifying the sites that have these bad ads and that have chosen not to fix them.”

It is possible to protect your site from the wrath of Google Chrome’s anti-ad feature. However, finding alternatives if your site is ‘failing’ can be tricky and costly. So, it’s essential that you review your current campaigns, learn what must be done and act quickly to find safer alternatives if you don’t want your online platforms to suffer.

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