Google recently announced that it will be cracking down on video ads this August. This follows the search giant’s decision to make the Chrome browser’s ad blocker fully available around the world in 2019. This might all sound a bit odd. Google, after all, owns YouTube. ou know, YouTube; that brilliant source of video content that is forever throwing ads in your face. So, what are they going to do about that, then? As great as their desire to ban crap ads might sound, surely this will impact their own service and, therefore, revenue? As you’d expect, all is not what it seems…
Firstly – what is adblocking?Good question. Ad blockers have actually been around for years and can be found baked into web browsers and even smartphone operating systems. Their job is relatively simple: remove those annoying banner ads that blight the user experience during a web browsing session. They’re not perfect and can be fooled, but the net result is a far more pleasurable experience once those pesky ads are blocked. Understandably, the presence of ad blockers has caused great concern in the advertising community and for content creators. Much of the web’s free content is paid for by advertising, but if ad blockers remove those ads from most people’s screens, there’s no chance of click-throughs and therefore no advertising revenue to be had. Ad blockers are controversial because, on the face of it, they appear to remove an advertiser’s right to provide a service. It’s a bit like placing bananas in petrol pumps (although, arguably less messy); without ad revenue, the advertisers and content creators themselves will struggle to make money. If ad blockers become too prevalent and powerful, they could put content creators and advertising platforms out of business entirely or force the former to implement pay walls. This is presumably why ad blockers haven’t quite achieved the prominence some organisations and standards agencies had been hoping for. It’s also why some ad blockers are no longer turned on by default and why you’ve probably already seen your fair share of ads online already today.
What sort of video ads will be targeted?Google refers to these naughty ads as ‘intrusive’. The YouTube owner relies on the Better Ads Standards to determine exactly which ads fall under that category, but they can be roughly defined as three distinct types:
- Mid-roll ads that interrupt the viewers experience by appearing in the middle of a video.
- Long pre-roll ads that can’t be skipped. These can be single ads or groups of ads that last for 31 seconds or longer (the standards state that they should be skippable within the first five seconds).
- Text or image ads that appear during the video. If they cover more than 20 percent of the content or sit within 1/3 of the video player window, they’re deemed naughty.