Google’s Pop-Up Ad Backlash

Google’s Pop-Up Ad Backlash
Key 'Takeaways' From This Post
  • 64% of people block ads because they’re annoying/intrusive
  • 33% of people find ads offensive and inappropriate

Are Your Pop-Up Ads Turning Google and Users Off?

Google, the search giant who makes its money from ads, will release a new version of Chrome next year that will block the most annoying types of pop-up ads on websites. Shocked? Yes, many businesses are – and some should be concerned.

Big-name companies, like TV Guide, Betty Crocker, The New York Daily News, ZDNet, PCMag and others, have already received (or will probably receive) emails from Google letting them know that their site did not pass the “Better Ads Standard test.”

Here’s the scoop.

Google vs. Annoying Pop-Ups

Many websites use advertising to help support content, add extra revenue, promote products, make offers, encourage newsletter signups, etc. So what does the upcoming Chrome ad blocker mean to your business?

First, Google’s not against pop-up ads in general. Instead they’re targeting sites that overly abuse pop-ups. (You know the ones I’m talking about – sites where you get in pop-up hell and can’t get out!)

If your business relies on advertising or are using pop-ups for revenue, don’t freak out too much. You basically need to evaluate how you’re using pop-up ads on your site and make sure they meet the Better Ads Standard guidelines. The ad experience is especially important for mobile devices. When in doubt, leave the pop-up out.

Consumers Don’t Like Pop-Up Ads Either

HubSpot recently conducted research with consumers and found that internet users don’t like obnoxious ads either. As a result, more and more people are using ad-blocker software:

Why do people hate pop-up ads?

Why do people hate pop-up ads?

HubSpot found out the main reasons people block ads:

  • 64% of people block ads because they’re annoying/intrusive
  • 54% block ads because they disrupt what they’re doing
  • 39% block ads because they’re concerned with security

Google also realizes that consumers are often frustrated with their online experience. This is especially true when they’re trying to read an article or blog post and are bombarded – and sometimes prevented from seeing the information – due to pop-up ads.

In the Harvard Business Review site example below, you’ll notice a prestitial pop-up ad that appears on the page. There’s no timer, so you have to click “Go to” to actually read the article you wanted to. This makes for a horrible user experience.

Obnoxious Pop-Up on Harvard Business Review Page

Obnoxious Pop-Up on Harvard Business Review Page

To create a better user experience, leading companies like Google have joined the Coalition for Better Ads to improve users’ experience on the internet. Relying on consumer research, this organization has put together online advertising “best practice” standards/guidelines for websites to follow.

As part of the Coalition for Better Ads, Google’s joining other leading companies to fight against the most obnoxious pop-up ads – ones that make for a bad user experience.

Google Let’s You Know If You’re In Trouble

Google wants people to have a great online experience. As a search engine, Google’s goal is to show the best search engine results. When Google sends people to a site that has frustrating pop-ups and the user leaves the site quickly, that makes Google look bad – and they don’t want that.

But Google is making it easy for websites to see if their current pop-up ads comply with their new “gold standard” of online ads.

Advertising Guide for Websites

The Coalition for Better Ads’ mission is to make the ad experience better for consumers:

“The Coalition’s research identifies the ad experiences that rank lowest across a range of user experience factors, and that are most highly correlated with an increased propensity for consumers to adopt ad blockers. These results define initial Better Ads Standards that identify the ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

The Coalition for Better Ads reached out to consumers and surveyed them to find out what ads bother and irritate them.

This research found the main types of ads that frustrate users:

Desktop Ads

  • Pop-up ads
  • Auto-playing video ads with sound
  • Prestitial ads (ads that appear before content is loaded) with countdown
  • Large sticky ads (ads that stick to the edge of a page)

Mobile Ads

  • Pop-up ads
  • Prestitial ads
  • Ad density higher than 30%
  • Flashing animated ads
  • Auto-playing video ads with sound
  • Prestitial ads with countdown
  • Full-screen scrollover ads
  • Large sticky ads

Google Helps You Determine If Your Ads Are Annoying

Not sure if your ads pass the smell test? Well, Google’s created a tool you can use to see if your website’s pop-ups comply with these new, more user-friendly ad guidelines. The Google Ad Experience tool shows you how the Better Ads Standards apply to your website. When you use this tool, you’ll see screenshots and videos of ads on your site that violate the standards so you can fix the ads or delete them off your website. (Note: Google doesn’t evaluate every page on your site – they take random samples of your site pages and analyze them.)

Viewing Your "Ad Experience"

Viewing Your “Ad Experience”

How do you get to the Ad Experience Report to see if your ads are in violation and could be blocked? If you’re verified on your site’s Google Search Console, you can run the tool and review your site’s Ad Experience Report.

Ad Experience Report

Ad Experience Report

Google’s Ad Experience Report shows you how your website’s pop-up ads appear on both Desktop and Mobile devices. (Mobile experience is especially crucial because of Google’s “mobile-first” initiative — more people search on mobile devices than desktop computers.)

If your website hasn’t been reviewed by Google yet, you will see the “Not Reviewed” in the Status section:

If a sample of your website has been reviewed, you’ll see the results: “Passing,” “Warning,” or “Failing.”

About Chrome Ad Filtering

About Chrome Ad Filtering

We have used Bright Local for many years now and they have always provided us with a great product as well as customer service to match. I would recommend this company to anyone.

Tyson Copeland Phoenix, AZ

Chrome Ad Filtering is Important to Your Business

Why is the 2018 Chrome Ad Blocking initiative so important? Google’s Chrome is the most popular browser. With the upcoming Chrome Ad Filtering feature coming out, you should start evaluating the ads that you have on your site starting now to avoid future issues.

What Do You Think?

Have your site’s pop-up ads been evaluated yet by Google? Did you pass? Have you noticed changes on how pop-up ads are displayed on other sites you visit frequently? (I personally have seen some BIG name digital marketers change the number of pop-ups that appear on their site.) Leave your comments below!

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14 thoughts on “Google’s Pop-Up Ad Backlash”

  1. >Google’s created a tool you can use to see if your website’s pop-ups comply with these new, more user-friendly ad guidelines.

    There really is no need if you have a grasp of web analytics. Check out the bounce rate. That shows you how many visitors get referred to your site, don’t like what they see/experience, and then leave. We added popups to survey visitors, and bounce rate in subsequent months looked really bad. Take a look, you’ll see if annoying some users has enough of a benefit to justify doing it.

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for your insights. It’s true that performing some more detailed analysis of our analytics can provide you with an overview of user experience and where and when visitors are leaving, but I still think it’s worth taking a look at Google’s tool to get their take on things.



  2. But.. the question for me is, Google recently sent me a message through Gmail stating the following: Chrome will prevent from opening new windows and tabs on May 25, 2018. Since then, popups no longer display through Chrome. I’m told to “Once your site is free of abusive experiences, request a review to identify the violating experiences detected.”, but have no options to submit a review.. so what do I do?

  3. Hey Sherry,
    Its absolutely a good news you shared here that google will add an ad block. Even though for websites the popups are helpful to collect e-mails, for users its really annoying. Thanks for this excellent article and ithe facts included shows the hard work and researches you have done. Great work!.

  4. Damn tired of pop up while trying to read—it’s google pop ups—what the hell is going on—-if you can’t stop them take google away

  5. Hooray to Google! The main reason for my increasing lack of Internet usage is annoying, even obnoxious and always disruptive ads. I understand that in a free market, information about a company’s wares must reach potential purchasers; however, getting that information to the most persons possible has reached infuriating proportions.

    Thank you Google for reaching out to do something positive about this growing problem. Oh, and yes, ads as security risks really has me agitated.

    1. Definitely on the same page as you Monte, nothing worse than turning up to a new site and seeing an explosion of pop-ups on my screen. Good job Google!

  6. Love this – I can’t stand pop-up ads! It’s even worse when I have clients have me set it up for them on their sites. They don’t want to listen to reason. I will definitely have to bookmark this to show to future clients! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Sinoun. It seems clients tend to only think about how a pop-up will be right in front of a customers eyes. They forget of course, the annoyance that this carries with it for the visitor.

  7. How about tools like hellobar and notification bars? Will those hurt a site? They don’t take up a page but they are usually stuck to either the top or bottom of a page.

    And great info, thanks!

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