“What do we do? We need people to sign up for our newsletter,” said Paul Likins, VP of revenue operations at American Media Inc., whose Men’s Fitness and National Enquirer sites were cited by Google for violations.
A Coalition for Better Ads spokesperson said the coalition is evaluating feedback it’s receiving on that and other issues. The coalition also hasn’t studied in-stream video ads and ads within videos (pre rolls and mid-rolls) so its initial guidance doesn’t address those. Google, meanwhile, said pop-ups for publishers’ newsletters or surveys aren’t considered ads so they shouldn’t be blocked, although if they’re served by third parties, they could be labeled as ads, in which case the publisher would have to contest the finding.
Google also dinged sites whose ads fail its ad density test, or take up more than 30 percent of the page they’re on, as described here. But guidelines are gray. Some ads take up a bigger share of screen on some devices that make up a smaller share of the smartphone market, points out Melissa Simson, VP of ad product innovation at Kargo. It’s unclear if Google will punish publishers for having violations on those devices, even if they represent a small portion of users.
Enforcement is another broad concern. Google hasn’t specified how many violations would cause a site to fail. Google has told publishers it will look at each site periodically. “A potential downside would be if there is a question on a bad ad, if you’re working in the programmatic space, you have some amount of control, but sometimes, bad ads get through,” said one exec at a mid-size publisher. For some, the fact that it’s Google cracking down on bad ads gives them leverage over ad buyers who still want to push intrusive — sorry, high-impact — ads on people.
“It gives publishers a bit more ground to stand on to focus on great user experience,” said Chris George, EVP of product marketing and sales strategy at PopSugar. Still, the burden will fall more heavily on smaller publishers that are desperate for the revenue and don’t have a dedicated Google rep or extra design and ad tech resources for their sites. For its part, Google said it’s still working out details of enforcement and wants to hear publisher feedback about the process.