For a moment in time, in 2017, many perceived Google's new ad blocking standards as building a bleak set of walls around online publishers.
In June 2017, Google first announced that, come 2018, Chrome would begin to support and abide by the "Better Ads Standards," originally set in place by the Coalition for Better Ads, to which Google belongs.
The Coalition for Better Ads is a collection of companies and associations that have come together to form an alliance for the betterment of viewer experience with advertising. The Better Ads Standards were put in place to essentially add guidelines to how ad servers should interact with their viewers.
What are the Better Ads Standards?
Based on "comprehensive research involving more than 25,000 consumers" from North America and Europe, the Coalition for Better Ads developed the "initial" Better Ads Standards - "initial," of course, signifying a potential for more to come.
From the research, they identified "the ad experiences that rank lowest across a range of user experience factors, and that are most highly correlated with an increased propensity for consumers to adopt ad blockers."
In other words, the research identified the ads that were the most annoying, and most disruptive to viewers.
In the research, twelve types of ads in total were identified that "fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability." Four types of desktop web ads, and eight types of mobile web ads. Among the least preferable desktop ads were pop-ups, auto-play video ads with sound, and large sticky ads. For mobile, the three aforementioned ads were identified, as well as flashing animated ads, full-screen scrollover ads, and more. See the full rundown here.
Something that initially scared publishers was the way Google is handling the actual blocking. If a publisher violates any of the twelve types of ads, then all of the ads on their site are blocked.
As time passed, however, it became clear that these standards were not as harsh as most thought. For example, when a publisher is found using one of the twelve disruptive ads, they have 30 days to remedy the issue. If they don't comply, only then are their ads blocked.
Just prior to the ad blocker's release, Google even stated that only about 1% of online publishers would be affected, proof that many publishers had already made changes at the first threat of ad blocking, or simply didn't need to make changes.
Now, it's been just over a month since the implementation of the ad blocker, and it seems clear that the changes only stand to benefit everyone involved.
User Experience is King
Anyone involved in advertising is most likely familiar with the idiom, "Content is king." But what is it that makes content great?
Well, content is engaging. It's something that consumers seek and track down themselves. The catch, however, is that, if the user experience surrounding that content isn't satisfactory, the content may get left in the cold. So, in a way, the "King" could never survive without prime user experience.
Optimized user experience is what the Coalition, the Better Ads Standards, and Google are all striving for, and there's one ad format that has always been tailored to the user's experience: native advertising.
Ahead of the Curve
While many thought that Google's changes could have a negative effect on native advertising, it seems as though the future looms bright for the ad format.
Native advertising already has many of the positive traits that Google seeks in all of online advertising. The format is ahead of its time.
Basically, Google is trying to improve all of advertising to interact with users the way native ads already do.
So, with that, let's take a look at 4 reasons why Google loves native advertising:
1. It's well-integrated.
Many ad formats sit alongside content. Native ads, however, sit within content. They're much better integrated, and are therefore less noticeable, and less disruptive. In a certain sense, you could even say that native ads simply are content.
Desktop and mobile users go to content to experience something they enjoy. No surprise there. Native advertising, however, at the moment, is the only ad form that can be integrated into that content, with minimal change to user experience, if any at all.
Native ads are less disruptive than any other kind of advertising, and that may be its greatest perk.
2. It benefits everyone.
Native advertising may be the only ad format that can truly benefit everyone involved, from publishers, to advertisers, to content viewers. The aforementioned integration makes it preferable for content viewers, as they get a more enjoyable flow of content.
That makes native advertising more useful for advertisers, as they know they'll get higher rates of engagement from users, which in turn will drive higher CPMs and revenue for publishers, as the demand for native inventory increases.
With Google's new ad blocking standards, native ad space could even become a premium for publishers, because of its many benefits, but also because of its certainty to withstand any advertising regulations that may be put in place.
3. It's useful everywhere.
As new ad platforms have come, gone, and evolved, native has evolved along with them. Mobile, video, and social media advertising are all major focal points for advertisers and publishers, and native advertising has always fit comfortably into the mix.
Not only that, but the perks of native are relevant across all platforms. Desktop and mobile native ads both tend to render higher engagement from content viewers, thus making it useful for publishers and advertisers on any device, and almost any app.
Not only that, but native advertising has become a strong friend of social media advertisers. Social media channels present opportunities for brands to be a little more personal, helping their message gain a bit of value.
4. Everyone likes sponsorships.
Sponsorships are the ultimate way for brands to promote themselves through a publisher's content. Instead of posting a direct message, they simply work as a co-presenter of content.
In some ways, content sponsorships almost don't qualify as what we would consider traditional advertising, because the messaging is not technically that of the advertiser.
This is another way for native ads to work themselves into the minds of users without effecting the flow of their content experience. They're not disrupted in any way, but, for example, are reminded that the current Quartz article they're reading is presented by BlackRock.
In the end, Google is striving for the most ideal content experience for all users, which could mean more native ads everywhere, regardless of the content, regardless of the device. Anyone looking for an example of the Better Ads Standards should take a look at the benefits of native ads.
The reasons why native ads fit Google's new standards, are the same reasons why it is here to stay for the long-term, and could be the future of online advertising.