Web Development

Spam, Ad Blocking, and How to Adapt

In recent user experience buzz, Google is reportedly working on a new Chrome feature that would block “bad ad types” by default. For this particular feature, bad ad types are being defined as:

”Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers are deemed to be “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

While it may seem strange that a leader in digital ad sales, Google, would develop an ad blocking feature, this development isn’t all that unexpected given current user trends. On average, users are exposed to some 5,000 ads per day-a number that has steadily grown over the past decade. That high level of exposure to ads is likely the main reason that nearly half of online customers used ad block technology in 2015. The consensus is pretty clear: users are already exposed to an overwhelming number of ads on a daily basis and have little patience for ads that hinder and/or interrupt their online experience.

There’s some speculation that this is a strategic move by Google to prevent users from blocking ads entirely:

“Google would essentially have ‘more control’ over the state of ad blocking. Perhaps there’s a feeling within the company that if bad ads are filtered out, internet users will be more receptive to good ads and less inclined to block them.”

While there’s no concrete explanation for it at this time, what remains clear is that spam, digital advertisements, and the nature of ad blocking has been and will continue to change the competition and visibility landscape for advertisers.

In order to remain relevant-and unblocked-digital advertisers should target and optimize in a manner that aligns with the preferences and patterns of current user behavior. Here’s a quick guide on what that entails.

Digital Advertising in an Ad-Blocking World

  • Mobile-Ready, Multi-Device Ads: Responsible use of mobile advertising that adheres to Google’s permitted formats including interstitials that appear in response to legal obligation, login dialogs, and banners that use an appropriate amount of screen space. As shown below:

  • Avoiding Intrusive Interstitial Ads: In January, Google introduced penalties and a search engine wide crackdown on intrusive interstitial ads. These include popups that cover main content, standalone ads that have to be dismissed before accessing the main content, and layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold. As shown below:

  • High Quality Ads: General adherence to Google’s best practices for digital advertisements and formats are more important than ever. Since this is how Google makes money, Google is likely to protect ads/advertisers that follow their guidelines correctly and create high-quality advertisements.
  • More Native Advertising: Advertisers should channel some of their advertising efforts into more organic forms of reaching people, such as influencer marketing, online reviews, or customer loyalty programs. By reaching an audience/customer on a natural level, brands are better able to advertise their products, services, or content on a peer-to-peer level.

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