UX Ads and Google Chrome Ad Crackdown

Feb 16, 2018 · 6 min read

Between Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year’s Day, Google Chrome gives us the gift of the AdBlocking Browser´s Day.

What is the relation between Advertising and UX? How can Advertising be acceptable so that users don´t use AdBlockers? Where is the balance? What can a browser do to fix this?

Here is a review related to this controversy. I will have a look at what main actors are saying. I will look to the words of specialist in UX such as Norman Nielsen Group and Brad Frost. I will search for conclusions from last AdBlockers studies. Look for recommendations from iab (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and Coalition for Better Ads. And finally we´ll see how the new AdBlocking feature of Google Chrome Browser works.

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Nielsen Norman Group

Last year, Nielsen Norman Group published a great research about this “The Most Hated Online Advertising Techniques”. NNGroup says: The following ad characteristics remained just as annoying for participants as they were in the early 2000s:

  • Pops up
  • Slow loading time
  • Covers what you are trying to see
  • Moves content around
  • Occupies most of the page
  • Automatically plays sound

You can download some wireframes from the article, I made this visual to see them in a look:

Brad Frost

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Living with bullshit — Brad Frost.

Brad Frost, a UX specialist, the creator of atomic design, designer, speaker, consultant and musician, launched a post called “Living with bullshit” also a site “Death to bullshit” and a blog about it.

From his site: “what I’m fighting for is for folks to use their judgement and strike a healthy balance between solving business problems and respecting their users and their time. For example:

  • Advertising is a necessary evil, however there’s a difference between paying the bills and straight-up assaulting your users.
  • Tracking scripts provide useful insights (I use Google Analytics on nearly all my sites to better understand how people are using my sites), but maybe you don’t need to include 22 of them.
  • Email marketing can be an effective way to connect with your audience and generate sales, but maybe you don’t need to flood their inboxes with 17 emails a week.
  • Popups and interstitials might be an effective way to get people to sign up for something (or not), but maybe there are alternative patterns that would be equally effective and less annoying to your users?
  • And so on and so on”

For this, he was asked how to remove bullshit as “bullshit makes money”. He answered: “everything in moderation, friends.”

Adblockers Study — PageFair

PageFair’s mission is to sustain the open web by re-establishing a fair deal between users and content creators. PageFair is the global authority on adblocking, cited by The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, Advertising Age, Wired.

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Pagefair — AdBlocking Report, The state of the blocked web 2017.

PageFair: AdBlocking Report: ‘The state of the blocked web — 2017 Global Adblock Report’. Some conclusions:

  • 10–25% of users and growing.
  • People from 18 to 50 years. More men.
  • Ads are considered interruptive and with virus/malware concerns
  • Adblock walls are useless
  • Better perception of static than animated Ads.
  • Better perception of skippable video ads vs non skippable Ads
  • Bad perception of Autoplay audio ads

iab, Interactive Advertising Bureau

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iab, Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The Iab (The Interactive Advertising Bureau is an advertising business organization that develops industry standards, conducts research, and provides legal support for the online advertising industry), and iab Tech Lab Solutions launched the program for Lean Ads :

  • L: Light. Limited file size with strict data call guidelines.
  • E: Encrypted. Assure user security with https/SSL compliant ads.
  • A: AdChoices Supported. All ads should support DAA’s consumer privacy programs.
  • N: Non-invasive/Non-disruptive. Ads that supplement the user experience and don’t disrupt it. This includes covering content and sound enabled by default.

The Coalition for Better Ads

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Coalition for Better Ads.

The Leading international trade associations and companies involved in online media formed the Coalition for Better Ads to improve consumers’ experience with online advertising. The Coalition for Better Ads leverage consumer insights and cross-industry expertise to develop and implement new global standards for online advertising.

They have the Standards here and a whole study here. These are the Ads studied by the Coalition for Better Ads:

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Coalition for better Ads — Tested Ad Experiences.

You shouldn´t see Disruptive Ads, these ones:

  • Ads that cover more than 30 percent of your phone screen
  • Ads that cover your screen and show a countdown timer
  • Ads with Autoplay video with sound
  • Ads that use “sticky” panels that won’t go away
  • Pop up Ads to cover part of the screen

At this point, we should say, that for both points of view (NNGroup and Coalition for Better Ads), invasive Ads can be related to format and behavior, in example:

  • What NNGroup calls Modal for Coalition for Better Ads are Popups, Preestitial, Postitial and Full-screen Ads.
  • Persistent banners (NNGroup )are related to large sticky Ads (Coalition for Better Ads).

Also you should take a look at The Ad Experience Report. You can visit also the Google Web Tools Help Center and the info for webmasters.

Google Chrome Browser

So, we had seen AdBlockers, Private Navigation, The issue with Safari Cookies, the upcoming GDPR Law for Europe, Brave browser, and now last version of Google Chrome blocking Ads. This is what they call “the Ad Apocalypse” or “the Ad Crackdown”.

This is Google´s final plan to remove ads that don’t follow industry standards. The news is that Google is automatically blocking some ads in Chrome browser. If a website is wrong with the Better Ad Standards, it will have one month for changing it before Chrome blocks its ads. For this, it is said that Google is using the same patterns as the public and community-curated EasyList filter rules.

For the users: There is a message indicating that ad blocking has occurred as well as an option to “allow ads on this site.” This has nothing to do with retargeting, the Ad-blocking is on the site, doesn´t matter where the user comes from.

This is the initial post from Google where Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, Vice President, Chrome, says they will keep the Chrome experience “healthy” (February 12th), vicepresident also said “ If we fail to do this as an industry, ad-blocking will rise and everyone will lose”, and yesterday (February 14th) another post explaining how Google Chrome filters Ads.

Probably you are asking yourself why Google is launching a built-in AdBlocker browser. There are some good headnews explaining it in one sentence: For example The Washington Post: “Google’s Chrome ad blocker means the Web’s largest ad company is also now advertising’s biggest traffic cop” . Popular Mechanics is more critic, they say “ Google is using its enormous influence to carefully reshape the market in which it profits to the tune of tens of billions. Google has the power to make it uniquely profitable (perhaps exclusively profitable) to buy the sorts of ads it has to sell”.

Finally, nothing is said about Ads on Apps or targeting Ads. This is what Mark Mayo from Mozilla states: “ We think Google’s new ad blocker is a positive step for the web, albeit one focused narrowly on decreasing web clutter and user annoyance with ads. At Mozilla, our goal is improve users’ experience with the web overall while protecting them from real harms, like tracking. The Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) addresses some of the most visible concerns with online advertising but notably does not address invisible trackers that can be used to create comprehensive profiles of your interests and activity.”

More info:

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