Google Chrome Ad Blocker for Marketers: Should We Panic?

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Google Chrome Ad Blocker for Marketers: Panic?

B2B and B2C companies across the world are wondering about the effects of Google Chrome Ad Blocker for marketers. Should we go crazy?

Google rolled out new ad blocking features in Chrome earlier this year … and a lot of advertisers and corporate marketers got upset. For some of them, the freakout was justified. Google Chrome dominates the modern browser market, typically cornering 62.28% of the web browser market. Which means anyone with any kind of online presence will need to play nice in the sandbox. But, now that we’re a few months in, is there really reason to panic?

What’s the Meaning of Google Chrome Ad Blocker for Marketers?

In an effort to block “intrusive” ad experiences and adhere to Better Ad Standards guidance, Google turned on site-by-site ad blocking in its Chrome browser. Sites will be evaluated by the ad blocker and graded as “passing,” “failing” or “warning.”

Passing sites will experience no problems or interruptions, whereas failing sites will have all ad and lead generation pop ups, banners, etc. blocked for all Chrome users (and will likely have the search algorithm notified). Sites that are graded as “warning” will receive a notification in Search Console and owners will have 30 days to fix the ad or ads that triggered the warning.

Should Marketers Panic?

Not necessarily. Google’s intent is to focus on ads that aren’t following best practices—essentially intrusive ads—so if you’ve been keeping your hat mostly white, there’s probably not much to worry about. Anyone using pop-up ads, however, should use this as an opportunity to take a hard look at their ecosystem and make minor adjustments to bring all ads firmly into compliance.

What Does Google Consider an Intrusive Ad?

To date, targets mostly include:

  • prestitial ads (those that display upon opening a page, including ones with countdowns),
  • popups with difficult-to-find “close” buttons,
  • full-screen ads that block excessive amounts of content and
  • ads with auto-play audio.

But standards vary slightly between mobile and desktop experiences and these guidelines are fairly broad. For example, prestitial ads won’t be affected on desktop, but mobile prestital ads will. Ads with flashing animation on mobile will be penalized, while those on desktop ads will not.

Here are a few more specific examples:

No-No: A full-screen popup that deploys automatically to all users as soon as a page loads is a no-no.

OK: A full-screen popup that deploys on exit intent is likely fine.

Fine: A small slide-in in the bottom right corner that deploys once a user scrolls halfway down the page is also probably fine.

Not On Your Life: A half-page banner on page load is probably not.

Google Chrome Ad Blocker for Marketers: The Bottom Line

Be judicious around deploying pop ups, notifications or banners that skate along the edge of the “intrusive” category. Google is continuously making changes and updates to its algorithm and rules and with their focus being user experience, it makes sense. Plus, shouldn’t we all care about how visitors interact with our websites? There is a reason the phrase “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” exists. Annoying a target audience to death is a strategy few marketers would recommend.

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Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.