Huge news for bloggers who generate income from ads on their site.
Google has announced a new ad blocker coming to the Chrome browser in early 2018.
See how this change may affect your revenue stream.
Viewers Want Content, Not Ads
When a web surfer sees an interesting blog title on Google or Pinterest, they visit that site to read more details.
Unfortunately, too many ads on the site:
- make page load time excessively slow
- delay appearance of content while the ads load first
- make the page jump back to the top over and over while the viewer is trying to scroll
- disrupt the flow of content with unrelated images or text after every few paragraphs
These factors all add up to a frustrating experience for the user.
And that’s what what this new Chrome ad blocker will attempt to remedy.
Why an Ad Blocker in Chrome?
Google’s official announcement, Building a Better Web for Everyone, details why they think this change is necessary.
In that article, Sridhar Ramaswamy, who is Google’s Senior Vice President of Ads and Commerce, said:
“…we plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018.”
Pushing Their Weight Around
Chrome is the dominant browser used world-wide, with 41% market share (according to this 2016 Gizmodo report).
So, when Google and its Chrome browser want to affect change, things get moving – fast.
Consider how quickly sites began converting to HTTPS once Google started rolling out penalties in January to display in-your-face warnings in the Chrome browser for any non HTTPS sites taking passwords or credit cards.
Who’s Behind This Change?
Google is a founding member of The Coalition for Better Ads.
So is Facebook, who also has a major stake in ad revenue on its own platform.
The Coalition’s mission is to create a better user experience.
“Consumers are increasingly frustrated with ads that disrupt their experience, interrupt content and slow browsing.”
On March 22, 2017, the Coalition released a report detailing their findings from an extensive study where “consumers comparatively ranked different ad experiences presented to them while they read online articles.”
A New Ads Standard
From this research the Coalition has developed “Better Ads Standards“ and “aims to encourage industry participants to incorporate the findings into their efforts to improve the online ad experience for consumers.”
Alanna Gombert, who is General Manager, IAB Tech Lab, and Senior Vice President, Technology and Ad Operations, IAB said:
“These research results will serve as a foundation to the LEAN Scoring System, which is currently under development.”
It’s anybody’s guess right now how this new scoring system will affect ranking with Google and other search engines.
How Will it Affect Revenue?
That’s literally the $64,000 question, isn’t it?
David Chavern, President and CEO of News Media Alliance, states that the Coalition is comprised of members who make a significant investment in content marketing that is sustained by advertising.
So, this move is certainly not aimed at taking money out of anyone’s pocket.
The goal is to gather data and implement changes that contribute to an even more enjoyable and engaging experience for web surfers.
In other words, they’re applying standards to stop irritating viewers and to put them in a better mood for clicking on the ads, and then maybe buying something.
What’s the Difference in a Good and Bad Ad Experience?
There is no accounting for taste.
So, Google built an Ad Experience Report testing tool in an effort to give more concrete examples of what constitutes a pleasant or irritating ad experience on your site.
To use the Google Ad Experience Report tool:
1. Log into your Google Search Console account.
Ensure that the site property to be tested is already verified
2. In the left sidebar, click Web Tools
3. Under Ad Experience Report, click Desktop or Mobile
4. Click the drop-down to select a verified property
You will see the status of your site’s review or if it has not been reviewed yet.
If it has been reviewed, there will be a video of the experience.
Keep in mind that this is a fairly new tool and it may take a while for Google bots to naturally get around to reviewing your site.
At this time, I don’t see a way to request that Google test your site on demand. That may change in the future.
Contact me if you need help ensuring that your site is properly verified with Google Search Console and we’ll check the integration with Google Analytics while we’re at it. (That’s another new feature from Google and is super for gaining a comprehensive insight into how folks are finding you in search and then what they visit on your site.)
READ: Integrate Google Search Console Data into Google Analytics for more details.
What About Current Ad Blockers?
A rising number of frequent web surfers have already installed an ad blocker browser extension. In fact, the rate of folks using ad blocker extensions has increased 30% from 2015 to 2016 and is still growing.
In an effort to get folks to turn those ad blockers off, Google has released a new program called Funding Choices.
The official statement about it says:
“With Funding Choices, now in beta, publishers can show a customized message to visitors using an ad blocker, inviting them to either enable ads on their site, or pay for a pass that removes all ads on that site through the new Google Contributor.”
So, why would anyone pay for this service?
Because more ad networks are going to install ad blocker buster code into sites that carry their ads, making the ad blocker extensions less effective.
If future ads are more appealing, then viewers might be tempted to turn them back on rather than pay that fee.
My guess is that it will be hard to convince them that either of these choices is a step forward.
Marc Boswell, Senior VP of Sales Operations & Client Services for Business Insider says:
Funding Choices allows the site to have a conversation with viewers who use ad blockers and give them an opportunity to whitelist the site.
I don’t know about you, but I’m even more sceptical about this working than I am about YouTube Red, which is an ad-free paid option.
Does anyone else have a deja vu feeling about what’s happening on the web now compared to back when network TV started competing with cable?
Feels the same way to me.
If you want your entertainment for free, be prepared to see ads or pay to remove them.
If you want help crafting the right message to use with Funding Choices option, see this post on DoubleClick for suggestions on How publishers can engage with people who use ad blockers.
The Times, They Are A Changin
And I think for the better.
Most ad networks have significantly improved the quality and speed of the ads they deliver.
Gone are the blinking, spammy looking ads that looked like you’d download a virus if you clicked on them.
Plus, the larger ad networks are now delivering their ads over a CDN to compress and speed them up.
But honestly, when your site has 10 ad placements and 500 requests, it’s still going to be painfully slow, no matter what other measures you take to speed it up. The sheer number of ads is the problem.
Many of my site audit clients have increased their revenue by running fewer ads. Their pages load quickly, and visitors stick around longer, giving them more opportunity to see and click the ads.
In head-to-head tests, we recorded a difference in load time of 6 seconds compared to 40 seconds just be removing the ads. We were able to get the no-ad load time down to 2 seconds or less. But, shaving off 4 seconds from a 40 second load time isn’t accomplishing anything worthwhile.
With fewer ads these site owners experienced:
- faster load times
- increased traffic
- higher time on site
- more revenue
So, I’m in favor of these new, better ad standards, and doing every other thing possible to improve the user experience.
Because I’ve seen it with my own site audit clients, I believe it will generate more revenue for the site owner in the end.
Need More Help?
I specialize in helping craft, foodie, and lifestyle bloggers have top performing sites.
A full site audit is a great way to find all the security and performance drags on your site.
I also offer real HTTPS conversion that is fully Google/Chrome compliant, not the chicken wire and duct tape way of doing it with plugins.
And, I can help ensure that your site is properly connected and integrated in all ways with Google Analytics and Google Search Console.