Ever since the first digital ad appeared in 1994, publishers have attempted to find a balance between a compelling content experience and a solid monetization plan. As technology has improved over the years, the struggle to maintain that balance has become increasingly difficult as advertisers vie for user's attention with intrusive ad formats.
This cat-and-mouse game has pushed many users to adopt ad blockers—browser plugins that prevent all advertising, intrusive or otherwise, from showing on web pages. Advertisers have responded to this by insisting on "viewable impressions" and paying only for ads that are "seen by a human." Publishers are stuck in the middle. It costs money to produce and distribute content, and selling advertising is important to the bottom line.
Leaders in the online media space and international trade associations have formed the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA). The CBA began by identifying the initial better ad standards. And now Google is taking steps towards enforcing those standards across the industry.
Digital advertising is about to get even more complicated. In an attempt to make ads less annoying for users, Google Chrome browsers will begi…
Beginning on February 15, 2018, Google's Chrome browser will begin blocking all ads on websites that receive a failing grade on Google's Ad Experience Report. Reports can be accessed through the Google Search console and are available when a site is reviewed.
A new tool for more choices
Google is also releasing Funding Choices—a tool publishers can use to recapture lost advertising revenue from Chrome users. Funding Choices identifies ad blocking software and delivers users a customizable message to give users next steps such as turning off the ad blocker. Another component, Contributor, allows users to purchase an ad removal pass for the site on a per-page basis at a price set by publishers. (Google does take a fixed percentage of the fee for providing the service.)
Reporting for Funding Choices and Contributor is available through Google. This gives publishers insights into ad blocking software usage on the site, as well as how custom messaging is performing.
In addition to helping publishers regain revenue, the program reminds users that great content isn't free and it's important to support the people that make that great content. More importantly, it gives users a choice on how they want to provide that support.
Today, Google's Chrome browser has a 60 percent market share worldwide on both mobile and desktop devices. These changes to how ads are displayed are going to make a considerable impact on both publishers and users. Publishers have more leverage to push back on intrusive ads—instead of feeling pressured to run intrusive ads to make ends meet. For users, there is additional protection against the worst offenders and another choice for supporting favorite publishers.
If publishers, advertisers and users are all willing to make changes, the Better Ad Standards can work for everyone.
Patty Bristol is the Ad Ops program manager at TownNews.