Advertising 5 Min Read

How to Avoid Chrome’s Ad Blocker

Written by Tim Edmundson

Google made waves last year when they announced plans to launch an ad blocker built right into their popular Chrome browser. This was big news — advertisers, publishers, and the internet in general function on ad revenue, and here was the biggest player in the digital space announcing they were going to make ad blocking the norm for their users. Chrome has 57% of the browser market share worldwide, meaning this would potentially make a big impact on ad revenue.

The much anticipated, and somewhat feared, built-in ad blocker for Chrome recently went live, and as it turns out the world didn’t end for advertisers. Google said they aren’t aiming to block all ads, just bad content, so marketers just need to avoid creating bad ads to dodge Chrome’s ad blocking. And, importantly, understand the criteria Google uses to block those ads — it may not be what you think.

The One Percent

Ad blocking can ruin a marketer’s day. Even despite doing everything right — perfecting your audience targeting, building engaging creative, setting the right flight dates — an ad blocker can negate all that good work in an instant.

Thankfully, the idea of the Chrome ad blocker turns out to be a lot more scary than the actual ad blocker itself. Chrome isn’t going to be blocking every ad you serve. Here’s how the ad blocker works: it identifies bad sites, i.e. sites that deploy annoying, intrusive ads (think large prestitial ads with countdown timers you can’t click out of), and then blocks ads from appearing on the site itself. This means any ad, not just the annoying ones, will not appear on the site. That also means the ad blocking is only limited to bad-ad sites, and not the internet in general.

Thankfully, sites with bad ads aren’t that common. According to a write up by Wired, less than one percent of the top 100,000 most popular sites in North America and Europe violate Google’s “bad site” guidelines. Chances are your ads won’t run the risk of being blocked by Chrome.

That said, there is one thing that marketers should take note of. Ad tech companies have been criticized for transparency issues in the past, often being accused of running ads on low quality, non-brand safe sites that generate a lot of clicks (and thus, good metrics). The way SteelHouse has addressed this is by including reporting in the Advertising Suite that drills all the way down to the publisher level. At a glance, you know exactly where your ads have been running, removing the fear that your campaigns aren’t being matched with content that can hurt your brand, or in the case of Chrome, with sites that can’t serve ads. And because SteelHouse uses our Dynamic Spend Technology to only run ads on sites that perform, you negate the risk of your ads ending up on a bad site that doesn’t contribute to your goal.

If your ad platform doesn’t offer the same level of transparency, it should give you pause. So be sure you know where your ads are running, and if your ad platform can’t tell you that, consider finding one that does.

Bring on the Quality

Another interesting thing to note is that Chrome’s ad blocker made an immediate impact on how the web treats bad ads — even before it launched. Leading up to the official launch on February 15th, Google sent notices to sites that fit their criteria for blocking ads, and 42% of the sites made changes to avoid the ad blocker. With publisher sites recognizing the need to offer quality content in their ads to avoid the ire of Google and users, it’s a good idea for marketers to do the same.

Creating quality ads is key to building a good relationship with your potential customers. We’ve offered guidance on this before, whether it’s tips from our lead designers or general guidance on how to build an awesome ad. We can’t stress enough how important the balance of performance vs. design really is. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of people aren’t going to click your ads, but they will see them. That means your ad should leave a good impression, because even when your ad goes unclicked, it doesn’t mean it’s not making an impact. You better make sure that impact is a positive one.

We’ve been aware of that need for some time, which is why we built the Ad Builder right in the SteelHouse Advertising Suite. It allows any marketer or designer to build ads with the effects and elements that can make an ad engaging. It also gives full access to the Getty Images library, which means that even if you don’t have original visuals to use in your ad, you can still have quality imagery that will match the look and feel of your brand.

The Secret to Avoiding Ad Blockers: Better Content

The fact so many publishers improved their site’s ad offerings to avoid Chrome’s ad blocker says it all — quality matters. Users download ad blockers because they don’t get any value from the ads served to them. If publishers work hard to ensure the ads they serve are quality, and advertisers work to create ads that are engaging and targeted to the right audience, then they can offer real value to users.

So do your part, and ensure your campaigns are running ads that both you (and Google) can be proud of.