Google Sets Its Sights on the Pop-Up Ad
Ethan Zucarman didn’t mean to annoy you. He was simply trying to solve a problem for his employer Tripod—a webpage-hosting provider that made it easy for anyone in the ‘90s to create websites about anything. Eventually Tripod began selling advertisements on the websites it hosted for free and that’s when the trouble began. Advertisers didn’t want their ads for family-friendly products and services displayed on pages dedicated to less-than-family-friendly activities.
To solve the problem, Zucarman created the pop-up advertisement.
“[The pop-up] was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content,” Zucarman said in an interview with Forbes contributor Jay McGregor (Forbes, 2014).
With that, the era of annoying pop-up advertisements on websites commenced. That era, however, is beginning to come to an end—at least for mobile users. That’s because Google recently announced it will update its guidelines on January 10, 2017, ultimately penalizing websites that use certine types of interstitial (ads that cover or overlay the interface of their host application) and pop-up ads.
Not long ago, Google added its mobile-friendly label to search results. Google’s end goal was to ensure that smartphone users (who now account for more than half of Google’s searches*1) could easily find responsively designed websites—those that display well on mobile devices and required less user interaction to access information.
Keeping this in mind, Google’s announcement that interstitial and pop-up ads (which often cover up content and require an action from the user to dismiss) comes as no surprise to those of us in the advertising world.
According to Google’s new guidelines, these techniques make content less accessible to end-users:
Likewise, here are examples of ads that will be unaffected by the new guidelines:
So now we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s explore why Google’s new guidelines aren’t all that surprising. In making these changes, Google’s end goal is simple—to stay the number one search engine in its markets. To achieve that goal, Google has to provide users with relevant content as fast and easily as possible. The better users are able to achieve their goal, the more often they’ll use Google—and the more often Google can serve them an ad.
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When creating content and designing your website (including ads) we recommend you align your content with the user’s goals. Just follow these steps:
Basically, it all comes down to being a good net citizen by creating great, user-friendly content that’s relevant to your audience. Remember, if it’s useful, they will come. And as an everyday practice, try to avoid the use of pop-up and interstitial ads. The easier it is for end-users to access your content, the better.
If you want to learn more about Google’s new guidelines, go to https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/08/helping-users-easily-access-content-on.html.
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