As you may know, Chrome is adding an ad blocker/filter, and has announced that it will start working on Feb 15. This post outlines:
- What the Chrome ad blocker/filter is and does
- How the Chrome ad blocker/filter may affect partner marketers
- Do partner marketers need to take action/respond to the Chrome ad filtering
You can read Chrome’s own post on how it works here.
What is the Chrome ad blocker/filter and what does it do?
As you know, millions of people have downloaded ad blockers onto their computers and mobile devices, to help address the very real issue of incredibly intrusive ads.
As consumers, we’ve all had moments when bad ad experiences have left us frustrated.
As a response to the growth in ad blocker usage, and in hopes of creating a better ad environment for web users, the Chrome team has decided to deploy an ad blocker/filter to their browser, as a way of helping people avoid overzealous advertisements while working to preserve an ad-supported internet. While it is often referred to as an ad blocker, it’s useful to think of it as a filter as it is very different from what we have come to know as ad blockers.
The filter DOES NOT block every ad. Rather, it blocks ads on sites that have been rated to provide an overall poor ad experience.
To rate publishers, Chrome analyzes a random set of pages from a site, and draw its conclusions from there. Publishers learn about their passing or failing status in an Ad Experience Report, which they can access in their Google Search Console.
Examples of how a site may earn a failing grade include use of:
- Large Sticky Ads
- Excessive Ad Density
- Autoplay Video with Sound
- Flashing Display Ads
The ad types deemed inappropriate or excessively intrusive are those identified as such by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry consortium. The current standards show 4 types of unacceptable ads on desktop and 8 types on Mobile. These types were found to be associated with an increased propensity for encouraging users to install ad blockers. See a gallery of what the coalition has rated as excessively intrusive ad types.
Publishers who fail an assessment can address the issues identified in their Ad Experience Report and ask for a second random sampling/assessment.
As of February 15, Chrome will block ads on any publisher site that has received a failing grade for 30 days or longer. Sites that do not offer excessively intrusive ad experiences will not have their ads blocked. Here’s a short video explanation of the program from the Chrome team:
Desktop and Mobile experiences are evaluated separately, and ads will only be blocked on sites that receive a failing grade for the experiences they deliver on the same device type. So, for example, a site could pass on PC, but fail on Mobile.
Running one such ad does not spawn ad blocking. Rather, it is when a sizable percentage of ad calls are for intrusive units that a site fails.
Why Chrome Introduced the Filter: To Preserve the Ad-Supported Internet
According to the Chrome team, about 2/3 of people install ad blockers to help them avoid excessively intrusive or bandwidth hogging ads, not to block all ads. Chrome’s ad filter is designed to help advertisers and publishers preserve an ad supported internet while encouraging publishers to eliminate bad ad experiences.
It is hoped that by encouraging publishers to deliver a better ad experience, the ad filter will improve consumer experiences and effectively discourage people from blocking all ads.
How does the Chrome ad blocker/filter affect partner marketers?
A few clients have asked us if the new Chrome ad filter will lessen the ability to track and measure through pixel-based or API methodologies. It’s important to recognize that Chrome is introducing an ad FILTER, not a blocker (on the order of the standalone ad blockers you may have heard of.) Sites that preserve a positive ad experience will continue to show ads, and tracking will work in the same manner as in the past.
There is no evidence or reason to believe that the ad filter will reduce the effectiveness of pixel-based or API-based ad measurement and tracking.
That is not its intent.
The intent of the filter is not to reduce the effectiveness of tracking but rather to improve ad experiences for consumers. We will, of course, continue to monitor data to ensure that it is not impacting data collection.
Do partner marketers need to take action/respond to Chrome ad filtering?
Hundreds of thousands of sites offer affiliate advertising and links. So, it’s possible that some of the sites that have your ads and links may get blocked if they are not cognizant or observant of the standards. Naturally, however, these sites will want to take steps to ensure that they pass the ad experience ratings system. Only a small percentage of sites fail using the current standards. Those standards are expected to be tightened over time. Further, failing sites are already trying to address their issues. From the Chrome blog post:
As of February 12, 42% of sites which were failing the Better Ads Standards have resolved their issues and are now passing. This is the outcome we are were hoping for — that sites would take steps to fix intrusive ads experiences themselves and benefit all web users. However, if a site continues to maintain non-compliant ad experiences 30 days after being notified of violations, Chrome will begin to block ads on that site.
Large sites have been aware of this coming Chrome capability for months, so we expect that most have addressed any issues that they might have had.
Since most affiliate programs pay only when publishers drive traffic and purchases, ad blocking shouldn’t affect your efficiency, but it is possible that for some clients it may somewhat reduce sales volume in the short term. After all, if some of your ads are blocked, they won’t be driving traffic.
Here are two things you can do if you are concerned:
1. Ask Your Partners About Their Ad Experience Ratings
Industry sources say only a very small percentage of all websites will be failing. It makes sense to work with great partners that consistently deliver the best possible ad experiences. By working directly with your partners, you can ensure you work with publishers that care just as much about user experience as you do.
And if your partners have failing sites, having these conversations can help make them more aware of these issues, and speed their plans for improvement. Direct conversations like this can help you maintain – or even increase – your volume through specific partners.
2. Avoid Ad Formats Shown To Deliver Bad User Experiences
As mentioned earlier, the Coalition for Better Ads has identified 12 ad formats that deliver bad customer experiences and encourage people to download ad blockers. Avoid producing formats like pop-ups and large sticky ads, and don’t offer video creative with auto play/sound on.
If you stay informed about the intrusive ad formats, you will be able to make strategic decisions for both your overall digital advertising and your partner marketing programs.
We hope this post has been helpful for your understanding of the Chrome ad blocker/filter. Clients with questions can contact us for more information.