It all started in December with Google announcing the ‘Better Ads Experience Program’ – guidelines for companies that want to improve user experiences.
The guidelines list things like annoying pop-ups, flashing, countdown, videos that auto-play, ads that when closed take you to another site, or sticky ads that maintain their place on the page regardless of how far you scroll down etc.
From 15 February, if you use Chrome (and apparently 55% of us do) you will have a better surfing experience on desktop and mobile.
Google is not however being altruistic. This action is its response, admittedly a responsible one – to the growing use of Ad Blockers that block all advertisements and stop revenue flows to Google. At least you will see advertisements sanctioned by members of the Coalition for Better Ads (that also includes Microsoft so expect changes to Edge/Bing).
It is entirely (at present) at Google’s discretion as to which websites end up on the blacklist. Google is analysing websites to determine whether they meet the Better Ads Standards and offers offending advertisers an Ad Experiences Report that identifies whether or not a publisher’s websites are on the list, and what the potential problems with the publisher’s website are.
Users will be notified of any blocking action using either a notification in the address field (“the omnibox”) on desktop or with a notification toolbar on mobile. This allows them to unblock an offending ad.
It will be interesting if Google’s approach stops the wholesale installation of ad blockers – time will tell.
Some sceptics have said that it gives Google too much control over what ads we see or somehow gives Google paid advertising prominence. That is the least of their problems and easily solved by using other browsers or turning off blocking in Chrome.