Google’s struggle with ads that negatively influence the user’s experience isn’t new: in April of last year the company announced that it was working on an ad blocker – or rather, an ad filter – and advised all the publishers to fix any intrusive ad until the beginning of 2018, when the filter would come into effect on Google Chrome.

It is only logical: the World Wide Web keeps on growing and, along with all the great things it brings and allows, come not so great things, like those annoying ads that make you want to close the page before you even got to read the actual content you were interested in in the first place. Proof of this is the growth in ad blocker usage: from December of 2015 until December of 2016, it grew by 30%, according to PageFair’s 2017 Adblock Report.

However, these ad blockers end up not being the best option since they block all the ads: the intrusive ones, but also the good ones. So Google found the middle ground.

Which ads are going to be blocked, then?

Last year, the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) – a group with members such as Facebook, Google, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, established the mission of improving “consumers’ experience with online advertising” – conducted a study with over 25.000 consumers from North America and Europe, in which the group analyzed a series of factors related to the user experience. Based on those results, the coalition established a group of ads that didn’t comply with their standards, both for desktop and mobile. Here they are:

Ads blocked on desktop
  • Pop-ups.
  • Videos that automatically start with sound when the user opens a page.
  • Sticky ads that are too big, i.e., ads that are still visible even when you scroll down.
  • Prestitial ads with a countdown: ads that appear before the content of the pages loads.

Ads blocked on mobile
  • Pop-ups.
  • Videos that automatically start with sound when the user opens a page.
  • Sticky ads that are too big.
  • Prestitial ads with a countdown.
  • Any prestitial ad.
  • Postitial ads with a countdown, i.e., ads that appear after the user has clicked on a link.
  • Ads that occupy more than 30% of a page’s height.
  • Ads that force the user to scroll, in order to get to the page’s content.
  • Animated ads in which the background, text or colors change quickly.

Image: Coalition for Better Ads

How does this ad filter work?

In a nutshell, ads are analyzed and get a “grade”: Passing, Warning or Failing. Getting a Warning means that the website has some ads that don’t meet the Coalition’s standards and getting a Failing means too many annoying ads. Google will let you know what issues it has found and lets you check the evaluation through an API. You then have 30 days to fix the situation, and in case you don’t, all the ads on the website are blocked and the users will get the option to unblock them. If your ads pass, well… good job! 👊

Meeting the standards defined by the CBA isn’t – or shouldn’t be – a difficult task; after all, all that is asked is for the user experience to be positive, which should be a goal from the start. If your ads are not in the list displayed above, then you’re good. Less annoying ads means less cluttered pages and more attention from the users to the good quality ads.