Last week was a big week in the ad world – it was the day Google Chrome updated its advertising standards and actively began to block ads that did not match the Coalition for Better Ads guidelines. In that one sentence alone, there are a few things that may leave you scratching your head as well as a few things that sound “scary,” but we’re going to take a few minutes and break it all down and tell you what you really need to know and how it affects your advertising efforts.
This is not the first time we’ve had a Chicken Little moment regarding ad blocking. It’s not even the first time we’ve heard of a web browser updating their standards pertaining to ad blocking. The first time we had a browser offer “ad blocking” technology was with Internet Explorer 10 update back in September 2012. This update allowed you to choose an option to block ads…enter the 1st generation ad blocking software. Since then, ad blocking has evolved and now there is software you can specifically install on your computer, mobile device or tablet what will work to block ads.
Through lots of research across North America and Europe tapping into over 25K participants and over 100 ad experiences across both desktop and mobile, the CBA (Coalition for Better Ads) – a group of leading international trade associations and companies involved in online media to improve the consumer experience with online advertising - released the Better Ad Standards identifying the experiences that were subpar as well as those that were well received. When those were released a while back, the ad community paid attention and many publishers/ad producers took action including folks like GumGum and Undertone. They changed their experience, their offering and their sales pitches to make sure what they were selling were things that would work…not just to address these standards, but to improve the overall experience for users that chose to not download and use an ad blocking software solution.
Google Chrome’s update is basically the adoption of a browser of these standards. They’re basically saying “if you aren’t going to provide our users a good browsing experience, we’re going to protect our customer – the user – and block your ads.” It’s a statement – and a bold statement, but it’s not one that should rock the ad world to its core as we’ve forecasted – and in some ways demanded – this type of update and adoption.
Take yourself out of advertiser/agency world for a moment and think of when you’re using the internet in your personal life…for an even better real-life example – remember how it was 5-10 years back….you’re trying to catch up with friends and looking for a new place to go to brunch, you’re shopping for a new pair of heels, you’re reading the news….and then all of a sudden, a pop-up ad comes into screen. You hit the link for the news story you want to read and the page takes forever to load so you get frustrated and go somewhere else. This is exactly what Chrome (and the CBA) are trying to prevent. They’ve done their part and laid the foundation.
For many advertisers, this won’t affect their buys or their delivery as a lot of the industry has shifted over the past year to account for these standards. For agencies, it doesn’t affect them too much either as a lot of the standards that were put in place were “best practices” that many agencies had established for themselves already. Finally, these standards really affect “high-impact” or “custom” executions – your standard IAB sizes (typically the backbone to any digital buy) remain unchanged and unaffected by this Chrome update.
When in doubt, remember the golden rule….If you wouldn’t want it done to you, don’t do it to others. Chrome’s update reinforces that and protects the user to ensure they have the best experience possible. This is exactly what any of us (advertiser/agency/general user) would want anyway – right? That is what we believe, we strive to do no harm, and that means ensuring the best experiences for our customers, clients and the industry.