Chrome Ad Filtering – The Publisher Angle

Chrome Ad Filtering AKA Google Ad Blocker

Chrome Ad Filtering is the official name of the expected new feature of the most popular browser, also known as the Google Ad Blocker. In the very near future, a new version of Google Chrome is going to filter or block certain types of online ads as a default. The implication for publishers is immediate and severe. Without proper preparation, many publishers will probably experience a drop in ad revenue.

UPDATE (Dec 19, 2017): The new ad blocking feature on Chrome will start on February 15th, 2018. From that day onward, Chrome will filter and block all ads on websites with a “failing” rank or status in the Ad Experience Report  and not fixed within 30 days.

Chrome Ad Filtering

Chrome Ad Filtering. Image: Google.

What Ads will Chrome Ad Filtering Actually Block?

The new Chrome Ad Filtering feature is positioned as a quality tool and not as an ad blocker. The browser will ultimately filter out and hide ads which interfere with the user experience. The blocked ads are defined by the Coalition For Better Ads, which Google supports. According to their list dated March 22, 2017, the following online ads are “least preferred”:

  • Pop-up ads (desktop and mobile)
  • Auto-playing video ads with sound (desktop and mobile)
  • Prestitial ads with countdown (desktop) and without countdown (mobile)
  • Large sticky ads (desktop – 970×250, 580×400, and mobile – more than 30%)
  • Ad density higher than 30% (mobile)
  • Postitial ads with countdown (mobile)
  • Full-screen scrollover ads

More generally speaking, Google is wishing to filter, quote: “ad experiences the industry has identified as being highly annoying to users, and egregious ad experiences, which are ad experiences that are misleading or abusive”.

Chrome Ad Filtering - Logo

Ad Experience Report

Publishers can already start preparations for the Chrome ad filtering feature. Here’s what you should do. Under Google Webmaster Tools (link here), click on Web Tools on the left side navigation bar. The first tool is the new Ad Experience Report.

The ad experience report provides publishers with Google’s view of whether or not the site violates the better ads standards. The report helps publishers identify such violations and remove them beforehand, avoiding filtering and possible negative scores by Google.

The Google robots have started reviewing websites for both desktop and mobile views. If your site was reviewed, you can access the report by clicking on the left side on either Desktop of Mobile.

Ad Experience Report

Ad Experience Report. Image: Google.

Chrome Ad Filtering Statuses Explained

The Ad Experience Report offers three status levels: passing, warning and failing. Each status refers to either desktop or mobile separately, so each website actually has 2 statuses.

Only websites with “failing” status will be filtered. Currently, Google will not block ads immediately. Instead, Google will send the owner a warning email giving them 30 days to fix the violations. Once fixed, the website owner can then submit the website for ad experience review.

Google also encourages publishers to fix websites with “warning” status. Of course if the status is “passing”, the filter will be turned off.

If you had to fix issues, we advise to be sure before submitting for review. This is important because after the third review, Google will delay the next review by 30 days.

Ad Standard Regions

Google acknowledges the fact that ad standards are different in various areas of the world. To allow such differences, the ad experience review will inspect different standards per region. The region is determined according to the location of the majority of the website’s visitors. And the region can be different for desktop and mobile.

Currently, there are only two regions, Region A for USA and Canada and Region B for Europe. We estimate that new regions will be introduced in the near future.

How To Fix Ads for Chrome Ad Filtering

In case Google found your website to be “failing” the ad standard review, you have 30 days to fix issues or risk losing ad revenue and status with Google.

  1. Creative Issues: Autoplay video with sound, pup-up ads, prestitial ads with countdown and ad density of over 30% – these are all examples of ad experiences due to ad tags. Google recommends to work with your tech or adops team to review and fix such issues.
  2. Design Issues: Large sticky ads, full screen scrollover – these are examples of design issues. Google recommends that you work with your website’s designer to improve the layout and experience.
  3. Egregious ad experiences: These are cases when the website’s ads are misleading or abusive. For example, links to malware, phishing for visitors’ data, auto redirects, ads that resemble system error messages, ads with transparent background, ads with moving arrows, and ads with a “close button” that actually clicks on the ad. Google recommends to remove such ads ASAP.

How Chrome Ad Filtering will Lead to Ad Revenue Drop

Publishers who fail to fix ad experience issues will lose money for sure. The Chrome browser holds more than 50% of the market and in some niches even more. Should the Chrome Ad Filtering block ads on a website, the ad revenue will immediately drop.

The negative implication of such a filter can be even more severe. We don’t know exactly the scope of the effect, yet being highlighted by Google for bad user experience can’t be a good thing. It can hurt page rank and accordingly reduce organic traffic. Moreover, it can damage the overall reputation of the website, lowering performance of other ad products as well.

How You Can Get Help Relating to Chrome Ad Filtering

Here at Adnimation, we partner with publishers to improve programmatic ad sales and increase ad revenue. In addition to header bidding, mobile tools and other ad-tech solutions, we also offer proactive management within the premium exchange Google Adx.

As part of our service, we provide ongoing support and help for everything Google. We have a network license from Google Adx and stay on top of all Google terms of service, updates and new features. Working with our partnering publishers for the long term, we serve as a digital adviser for anything related to ads and to Google.

And so, as part of the preparations for the Chrome Ad Filtering feature, we review the websites of our partnering publishers and help them avoid penalties. We invite other publishers to contact us as well and see how we can work together.

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