Over the past few years, it has become significantly harder for small websites that rely on ad revenue to survive. Search engines and social media platforms have taken a harder stance against clickbaiting and other tricks that were once commonly used to drive traffic. And consumers in general have become more likely to install ad blockers. Many smaller sites have tried to make up the shortfall by pushing more ads on every page, but even that may be coming to a close. Google is updating its Chrome browser to allow users to remove all ads from sites from that abuse ads.
In the latest version of Chrome (Version 71 for Windows, Mac and Linux), Google has added the ability for Chrome to detect websites with deceptive or overly-aggressive ad techniques, and block their ads.
According to a November blog post on the Chromium blog that announced the change, Google explained, “Starting in December 2018, Chrome 71 will remove all ads on the small number of sites with persistent abusive experiences. Site owners can use the Abusive Experiences Report in their Google Search Console to see if their site contains any of these abusive experiences that need to be corrected or removed. Site owners will have a 30 day window to fix experiences flagged by the Report before Chrome removes ads.”
As the post mentioned, website owners will be given a warning notice if their site has been reported to Google for having abusive ads. Once they receive the warning, website owners have 30 days to fix their site or ads on that site won’t be shown to users visiting the site with Chrome. If you think Google is doing this to punish sites that use different ad platforms, Google will even block the ads on abusive site that were served by Google’s platform. So putting in some Google Ads into the mix is not a shield from this new policy against abusive ad experiences.
This is an update from other systems Google put into place within the past year to combat abusive ads. As Google explained in their post, it was decided that the first changes didn’t go far enough and were letting too many bad pages through the filter.
Noting the shortcoming of the earlier system, Google wrote, “However, we’ve learned since then that this approach did not go far enough. In fact, more than half of these abusive experiences are not blocked by our current set of protections, and nearly all involve harmful or misleading ads. These ads trick users into clicking on them by pretending to be system warnings or “close” buttons that do not actually close the ad. Further, some of these abusive ad experiences are used by scammers and phishing schemes to steal personal information.”
Almost everyone has experienced a website that abuses advertising. These are sites with ads that look like misleading system messages or use things that look like pointers or navigation buttons that link to unexpected content. These are sites that also have ads that are difficult to close or where clicking anywhere on the site opens up new ads. These are also the sites that load slowly because of all of the ads. With the new Google Chrome update, ads with these abusive ad experiences will have all of their ad blocked by default.
This has the potential to lead to major changes in the way websites place ads on their site. Whereas a site with an aggressive ad experience could expect to see a little revenue, even if people quickly left the page, they now face the prospect of getting no revenue at all from a large share of their visitors. .
Though there’s little doubt that this plan will cause some pain for content creators who used an aggressive ad strategy on their site, it may be for the best in the long run. When websites have so many ads that it hurts the user experience, it leads people to avoid that website or install ad blockers. Keeping a balanced ad experience keeps more people on the site for longer and makes them more likely to come back.
Cynics could argue that this is another chapter in the long story of Google attempting to force changes in the industry using Google Chrome. This add on to the Chrome browser will force website owners to think about the ad distribution on their site. Chrome accounts for nearly half (49 percent) of the browsers in the U.S. Website owners can’t take the risk of half of their traffic having the option to turn off all of the ads on their page, so they will adjust their sites accordingly. This is similar to how Google Chrome marks pages that use HTTP instead of HTTPS as “Not Secure”. Google can promote the standards it wants to see adopted by using Google Chrome as both a carrot and a stick.
For now, if a website owner gets a notice from Google to change their ad experience, then they need to do so if they don’t want to lose all revenue from Chrome users. Chrome users can deactivate the new feature, but it’s safe to assume that most people will choose to leave it on.
For more recent news about Google, read this article about an update to Google Maps that can help local business owners connect with customers.