Google's Ad Block Update Is Live. We Asked Marketers What They Think.

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The time has finally come.

Google is releasing a new update for their ad blocking technology today. The new update is intended to crack down on ads that may provide a bad user experience for viewers under Coalition for Better Ads' standards.

This is one of several changes marketers need to be mindful of as they evolve their digital marketing strategy. Google has also explicitly said that they will be taking mobile page speed into more careful consideration for SEO this year. Although page speed has always been a factor, the fact that Google made a specific announcement about it shines a light on the growing importance of the medium. 

When news of Google's ad blocking update first broke back in June 2017, we turned to marketers to weigh in with their thoughts. Now that the update has finally arrived, we decided to go back and see if perceptions have changed as marketers took time to tweak their strategies.

Q: What steps can companies take to make sure they're compliant under Google's new ad block rule?

David Kashak, CEO, Connatix: To stay compliant within Google's ad blocking rules, companies should ensure that formats that have been identified as intrusive for users by the Coalition for Better Ads are not part of their ad stack. Examples of these formats include: ads with auto play sound, ads that block content and ads with a countdown clock.

Chaitanya Chandrasekar, CEO, QuanticMindThis change arguably puts more control over ad specifications in the hands of Google. Google has suggested this will lead to a better user experience, but it may also lead to significant advertising spend going to waste as advertisers spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars crafting new ad creative for their products and services that never even get loaded into the browser windows of their target audience. For brands this means the challenge of relevance must be taken seriously.

Patrick Reinhart, Sr. Director, Digital Strategies, 30/30 Search Series Host, Conductor: So, while it can't hurt to glance through a checklist and make sure you don't have bad ad experiences, there's no substitute for looking at how your content corresponds to keyword rankings for and making sure they line up.

Justin Kennedy, COO, Sonobi: The easiest way is to go into the webmaster tools within Google. If you have verified sites in there, you can utilize the tool to make sure your site is compliant.

Q: Why do you think Google made the move?

Kashak: The move to implement stricter ad blocking rules is an attempt to find the right medium between a complete ad blocker and a better user experience. As some ads formats have become more intrusive over the past years, the adoption of ad blockers by users has increased. This has become a real threat against keeping the internet free, since publishers rely on ad dollars to cover the high costs of producing quality content, and making it freely available for their users. Stricter blocking rules will improve the overall user experience and ad blockers, which block all ads on site, are not needed.

Reinhart: A common misconception about Google is that they are obsessed with making marketers lives more difficult with all of their updates and changes, which is not the case. They are, in fact, obsessed with user experience because they want people to continue to use their search engine so they can continue to serve them ads. With that said, Google is improving its product and wants to provide the best user experience it possibly can to achieve that end goal.

Kennedy: I think it's telling that there are ad types supported by Google that somehow have been absolved as being labeled as a "bad ad.” I think this is a play by Google to continue to consolidate the digital media experience to their benefit.

Q: Google's also made headlines for placing more weight on mobile as factor in SEO. What can marketers do to prepare for this change? 

Chandrasekar: If they aren't already, marketers should consider mobile site experience, of which page speed is certainly a prime component, particularly in industries where conversions are completed on mobile (for example, eCommerce). If you aren't currently thinking about responsive site design, you should add this to your list of website priorities.

Kennedy: This is another instance of Google using their power to direct the future of digital advertising.  They are making it count as a bigger factor for SEO so publishers are constantly pressured to utilize Google AMP.  The only thing marketers can do to help with heavy page loads is to ensure that their creative assets adhere to established "weight" (size of the file) when deployed.

Q: How do you think this will impact digital advertising in the future?

Kashak: Digital advertising is key in keeping the internet free. If everyone is following the coalition's identified rules, it will ensure the user has a positive viewing experience. This is a win-win for both users and publishers. 

Reinhart: Digital advertisers will have to think a lot more like SEO strategists and content marketers. They'll need to create compelling content that aligns with search intent. While the best digital advertisers have been doing it this way for a while, it's a change in mentality for a lot of the industry. 

Chandrasekar: Advertisers from across the globe have already been preparing for this change. So, in a perfect world, nobody's multi-million blockbuster ad campaign for the biggest movie of the summer will be affected. We'll have to wait and see whether there end up being any high-profile casualties.

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