Jessica Goodfellow
Feb 6, 2020

Google Chrome to punish sites that host 'disruptive' video ads

YouTube will also be reviewed for compliance as part of Google's crackdown on 'intrusive' ads that appear in short-form video.

Google Chrome to punish sites that host 'disruptive' video ads

Google has announced it will "demonetise" sites on its Chrome browser that host "disruptive" ads within short-form video—such as long, non-skippable pre-roll, mid-roll, and ads that obscure a video—as part of new set of standards released by the Coalition for Better Ads.

The Coalition for Better Ads was formed in 2016 to set standards for ads that provide a better experience for internet users. It now counts 34 members, including companies like Google and Facebook, and trade bodies like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

The Coalition has conducted "extensive" research on ads that appear alongside short-form video, which it defines as video of eight minutes or less. The research, which involved nearly 45,000 consumers in eight countries representing 60% of global online advertising spending, has laid the foundation for a new set of standards, released yesterday (February 5) for short-form video ads. It identified three ad experiences that internet users find to be particularly disruptive:

  1. Long, non-skippable pre-roll ads or groups of ads longer than 31 seconds that appear before a video and that cannot be skipped within the first 5 seconds
  2. Mid-roll ads of any duration that appear in the middle of a video, interrupting the user’s experience
  3. Image or text ads that appear on top of a playing video and are in the middle 1/3 of the video player window or cover more than 20 percent of the video content.

Announcing the new standards, the Coalition said website owners should stop showing these ads to their site visitors in the next four months. 

Now, Google has made that deadline a hard threat. Beginning August 5, it will block all ads from appearing on websites in Chrome that repeatedly show ads that fall under the three categories above. That suggests it will not only block the annoying video ads in question, but will cut off all ad supply to these sites.

Amid antitrust investigations, Google said it will also review its own websites—namely YouTube—for compliance. 

It is not the first time Google has blocked ads on websites in Chrome; it began blocking ads that weren't compliant with the Coalition's comprehensive 'Better Ads' standards two years ago.

In a blog post announcing the news by Google product manager Jason James, the company guided website owners to "consider reviewing your site status" via its Ad Experience Report, a tool that helps publishers to understand if Chrome has identified any violating ad experiences on their site. 

Commenting on the new standards, Stephan Loerke, the CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), said: “Although the growth of ad blocking has slowed down in recent years, the industry still has a long way to go to ensure that the ads they serve are relevant and enhance consumers’ online experience. The new Standard for video ads is a positive step forward, following the Better Ads Standards and the work the Coalition and its members are doing globally and locally.”

Kenneth Suh, chief strategy officer of video ad firm Unruly, said the crack down on disruptive video ads "is a step in the right direction for the industry, and it rightly places customer experience first".

"Interruptive, disruptive or obscurant ads might well get attention but for all the wrong reasons," he said. "This move shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance to video advertisers. Brands will now have to focus on more creative and innovative ways to engage users through video, that doesn't rely on disruptive or interruptive formats."

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