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

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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!

Sherry Bonelli
About the author
Sherry is the former Local Search Evangelist at BrightLocal. She led BrightLocal's Research and Content programs and championed the needs of their SEO Agency and SMB customers. Having worked in digital marketing since 1998, Sherry has a Master’s Degree in Internet Marketing along with numerous digital marketing certifications.

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