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Google's Better Ads Standards Policy: What You Need to Know editorial staff editorial staff

Ad-blocking technology for annoying advertising is now baked into the Chrome browser.

  • In 2018, Google implemented a protocol for how digital marketers and websites should display ads in order to be compliant with the company's user experience goals.
  • These protocols are called Better Ads Standards and were put into place to prevent businesses from using disruptive marketing tactics that hinder the consumer web experience.
  • If businesses wish to be in compliance with Google's standards and reap the benefits the company provides, they should read the Better Ads Standards and audit their own ads to ensure none are in violation of the policies.

What are Google's Better Ads Standards?

Google's Better Ads Standards are a set of parameters set by the search engine to ensure the digital advertising displayed on websites is not disrupting the experience of online consumers. Created by the Coalition for Better Ads in 2017, the standards outline how digital advertisers can showcase their products without negatively affecting the consumer journey.

The Better Ads Standards is Google's attempt at keeping the internet as clean and user-friendly as possible by disincentivizing annoying spam ads that turn users away from certain websites.

The standards were instituted to provide a framework to keep advertisements from becoming overly intrusive, spammy or otherwise detract from the overall consumer experience of surfing the web.

If you run certain types of ads on your website, you've likely already noticed the effect on revenue.

On February 15, 2018, Google rolled out new ad-blocking functionality on its Chrome browser. Video ads with sound that automatically play, large sticky ads that overtake the bottom of a computer screen and ads that blanket the entire screen are blocked. If your company has used any of these tactics in your online advertising, you've no doubt seen click-throughs go way down.

By conforming to the Better Ads Standards, though, you can avoid those traffic mishaps. The standards outline 12 types of ads it deems "particularly annoying." They were developed from public consumer research by the Coalition for Better Ads, a group focused on improving the web surfing experience. They surveyed more than 40,000 people in North America and Europe to determine the specific elements people hated most about online ads.

Other examples of blocked ads include ads that fill your screen as you scroll over them on a phone, flashing animated ads and mobile ads that take up more than 30% of your screen.

Google examines a sample of web pages from your site. If your site is running these types of ads, Google will contact you and offer you the opportunity to fix the issues and remove the ads within 30 days. It will tell you if your site is passing, warning or failing.

If you're failing and you fix your issues, you can ask Google to re-review your site. To see how your site ranks, review your ad experience report on Google's Search Console. As of February 12, 2018, Google says 42% of sites that were originally failing resolved their issues and obtained a passing grade.

For websites that display problematic ads, Chrome will post a message indicating that an ad was blocked. The user can disable the ad-blocking feature by selecting the "Allow ads on this site" option.

Ad blocking is not a new phenomenon. More than 25% of current web surfers use ad-blocking technology on the desktop and 15% on mobile, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. IAB says that 20% of those polled said they turned ad blocking off for a site because they were not able to access the site's content. Ultimately, companies following these online ad guidelines may improve ad performance.

How to make sure your ads comply with Google's Policy 

The best way to ensure your ads make the cut is to read the policy for yourself. The standards generally dictate that any ads which inherently distract from the intended content are deemed to be a violation. 

For example, if you run a popup ad that takes up the entire screen, your site will be flagged. If you run an ad that starts playing music as soon as the user opens the page, your site will be in violation. 

The best way to ensure that your ads don't get flagged is to put yourself in the shoes of the average internet user and click through your own site. If the ads being displayed distract from the native content, you may have a problem. If they present useful products or services in a tasteful way that makes use of the site's negative space, then you're probably in the clear. If your site is somewhere in the middle, try to tweak it to be more like the latter than the former. 

Ultimately, Google's Better Ads Standards is aimed at creating a cleaner, more streamlined internet experience for everyone. It benefits not only consumers but marketers as well. Making sales is tougher than scamming clicks, but in the long run, it creates a healthier digital ecosystem for consumers and brands alike.

Image Credit: Pinkypills / Getty Images editorial staff editorial staff Member
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