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Google Ad Regulations in 2018: New Year, New Game

2017 presented a number of challenges to the digital marketing world. Manipulative advertising, fake news, black-hat marketing, and bot traffic have littered the web, and Google responded swiftly with a number of drastic regulation changes to both their pay-per-click and organic search platforms. And it’s not just Google that reinforced their policies; most of the major search engines and social media platforms have updated their regulations to prevent manipulative content and obstructive advertisements.

As marketers, it’s our job to adapt to these challenges and identify strategies that will maintain effectiveness in an ever-changing digital landscape. In this article, I’m going to explain how Google’s 2018 changes will affect marketing and how you can avoid any negative impact on your ad campaigns. Look for a follow up post on Facebook’s changes next week.

Google Introduces Stricter Ad Regulations in 2018

Beginning February 15th, Google’s Chrome web browser will utilize a native ad blocker to stop displaying any advertisements on websites that feature a non-compliant ad. This comes after Google joined forces with the Coalition for Better Ads during September of 2017. This coalition is responsible for creating the Better Ads Experience Program, a voluntary initiative for industry leaders to improve the online experience of their users. Google and many of the major social media platforms are joining together to fully support this initiative, so the impact could be drastic and far-reaching.

woman browsing on laptop
Google wants to change Chrome ads to make them better serve the user.

Google’s overall strategy is to rid the internet of low-quality advertisements and create a user-friendly browsing environment. While this is a noble endeavor, there is a great deal of risk involved. The regulatory change is dreaded by online businesses and advertisers, who could potentially lose millions of dollars on wasted ad spend. It’s estimated that over $22 billion dollars are lost per year because of ad blockers.

Since Google Chrome is the clear frontrunner as the world’s most used web browser, their introduction of a native ad blocker will cause that number to skyrocket. If you create an advertisement that is fully compliant with Google’s standards, your ad will not show up on a website if there are any other non-compliant ads. And even if your ad gets blocked from being displayed, you’ll still be required to pay for the placement of that ad. Worse yet, if your website features non-compliant ads, your visitors could be prompted with warning before entering your site, which can cause a significant drop in traffic.

How Can Your Ads Avoid Negative Impacts from Google?

With all of these risks involved, your ad placement and quality both need to be carefully planned moving forward. Google will now scrutinize your advertisements more than ever before, not only in terms of content quality, but in terms of format and animation. And as more websites and web browsers introduce ad blockers, more dollars will be wasted on blocked ad placements. What’s more, with the wrong ads your entire website could be blacklisted from showing advertisements on Google Chrome.

Google analytics page on laptop
If you ignore Google’s new ad policies, you could end up wasting your advertising dollars.

The stakes are high. But if you’re concerned about the potential impacts from the Google regulation changes, there is a way forward. Your overarching goal should be a user-friendly web environment, meaning high quality content and non-manipulative advertisements across your site. To clarify, let’s discuss what Google considers to be “user friendly”:pex

What Makes Google Consider an Advertisement Bad?

 

  • Ads that Interrupt:  Pop-up ads are considered to be low-quality for one main reason – they block content. Most pop-ups appear after the content on a page has loaded, so the user is given a brief preview before a large window blocks the page. According to BetterAds.org, pop-up ads are among the most commonly cited annoyances of web users, and they will be the first type of advertisement to receive a block.
  • Ads that Distract: We’ve all been here. After opening a web page, you begin reading a few lines of text…then suddenly, a loud advertisement begins to play, causing you to jump out of your chair. In other cases, you’ll open a web page, and suddenly a large pop-up appears, flashing like a strobe light. Any sort of ad that has distracting audio or visual effects is cause for penalization.
  • Large Sticky Ads: Have you ever encountered a large sticky advertisement at the bottom or top of a webpage? These types of ads stay in the same position as you scroll through a website, and require you to click “exit” before they disappear. Regardless of the position of these advertisements, they’re at risk of being blocked.
  • High Density Mobile Advertisements: You’ve probably seen these sorts of ads while viewing full-page slideshows or lists. For example, if you’re scrolling through a slideshow that features an advertisement in between each slide, those ads will likely be blocked. If the advertisements on a website take up more than 30% of the vertical height of a page, they will likely be blocked.
  • Full Screen Advertisements: These types of advertisements often come accompanied by a 15 or 30 second countdown timer. I’m sure that anybody who is reading this blog has seen this before, and we can all rejoice that Chrome will be blocking them out.

 

What Makes Google Consider an Advertisement Good?

 

  • Ads that are Immediate: Users are much more likely to engage with ads that load fast. According to DoubleClick, Google’s marketing insights blog, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) have much higher click-through-rates and eCPMs (effective cost per thousand impressions).
  • Ads that are Immersive: Whenever you design an advertisement, make sure you consider how that ad would work with the design of your website. Your goal should be to create advertisements that readers seamlessly interact with.
  • Ads that are Relevant: This needs to be a consideration for both website owners and marketers. If you’re a marketer who utilizes Google’s display network, your advertisements need to display throughout websites within your niche. And if you’re a website owner, you need to monitor the ads on your website to make sure they are relevant to your content. If there is a lack of relevance between an advertisement and the website it displays on, there’s a much higher likelihood that the ad will be blocked by Chrome.

 

Man browsing web on tablet with coffee
Follow these best practices and you will deliver advertising that Google and your customers will love.

While the new regulations from Google have the potential to derail countless marketing efforts, they also present an opportunity to step back and consider your overall digital strategy. Your keys to success in 2018 should be focused around two main objectives: high-quality content and a friendly user experience. If you craft and place digital ads that are accurate and non-obtrusive, you’ll be able to avoid any wasted advertising dollars.

If you’d like to talk over your approach to advertising online, feel free to reach out to me and my team. If you’d like to read more about Google’s policies, here is another post of mine on publishing duplicate content.