This Month's Features:
Tech & Learning
A recent gala illustrates a principle behind what has consistently been found to be the greatest source of waste, the greatest source of potential cost savings and the biggest differentiator between competing printing proposals for all but the smallest-circulation magazines. | READ MORE
Google's Chrome ad blocker, which recently went into effect, blocks all ads served on sites that receive a failure notice if the publisher doesn't comply with the Better Ads Standards within 30 days.
Depending on the number of violations found, the site will be evaluated based on Passing, Warning or Failing grades. One bad ad will not start the filtering, according to Kelsey LeBeau, who heads publisher partnerships at Google. The site must be a repeat offender. The technology, however, will block ads that comply and do not meet the standards if the publisher fails to comply.
It is not technically impossible to block only the ads that do not comply – but it is extremely difficult, so for now the platform blocks all ads. Chrome's ad filter will first check whether that page belongs to a site that fails the Better Ads Standards. If so, network requests on the page are checked against a list of known ad-related URL patterns. If there is a match, Chrome will block the request, preventing the ad from displaying on the page. The patterns are based on the public EasyList filter rules, and include patterns that match for Google's AdSense and DoubleClick.
LeBeau has been working the past two years with challenges based on ad blocking. Her focus is twofold: to reduce the demand for blockers that do not discriminate in terms of who is serving the ad by improving the site visitor's experience, and how to win back users who have installed ad blockers.
The detail of "all" ads, which is buried in a blog post from Google, may be the most significant and overlooked nuance of the announcement. The status of the evaluation will post in the Ad Experience Report.
Today, the Better Ads Standards from the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group focused on improving the user experience with online advertising, consists of 12 ad experiences that research found to be annoying to users, such as pop-up ads, autoplay ads with sound, flashing animation and those with a countdown where visitors must wait to access the site.
LeBeau also confirmed earlier reports that less than 1% of publishers will be affected by filtered ads because, increasingly, publishers are stepping up to make the changes on their own.
LeBeau said this shift is more about monetizing the web for a better experience. Even if Google's ads are against the Better Ads Standards, it doesn't matter because Chrome removes all ads, good and bad, if they're found to have repeated violations.
Not all agree on Google's vision. Industry chatter suggests that the Chrome ad blocker is less about improving the browsing experience and more about what benefits Google's top line.
"If you're looking for motivation behind the Google Chrome built-in ad blocker, it's less about improving the browsing experience for users and more about forcing publishers and advertisers towards ad standards that benefit Google," wrote Ghostery's Director of Product, Jeremy Tillman, in an email to Publishers Daily. "The fact that it is threatening to block all ads on pages that fail to meet its standards within 30 days seems like an obvious ploy to move more publishers to Google's advertising platforms, which relies on deep and exhaustive data collection that Google has no incentive to curb."
Tillman called the Chrome feature less of an ad blocker and more of an "enforcer."
The advertising and publishing communities need to add more value to consumers and brands, which was a huge theme at this week's Interactive Advertising Bureau Leadership Conference in Palm Desert, California.
"Even so, whether or not publishers make this change should be a choice," said Rich Kahn, CEO and cofounder of eZanga. "This may be an attempt to give users a better experience, but it should not be something forced on website owners and users."
Technology is bringing an end to the "forced viewing economy," said Ed Montes, CRO at Dataxu.
© 2018 MediaPost Communications.
Folio: Digital Awards
Inland Press Association Revenue Conference
INMA Media Subscription Summit
Magazine Innovation Center – ACT 8 Conference
Women Visionaries Event
you have an event that you would like to announce,
Last week, the popular website Little Things, known for its women-focused service and live video content on Facebook, announced it would close its doors following a deadly decline in traffic. That move followed Facebook's recent algorithm change.
According to Little Things's CEO Joe Speiser, the site experienced a 75% drop in traffic, enough to decimate its profit margin four years after its launch.
Little Things's reliance on a singular source for the bulk of its traffic proved deadly in an era when outlets are realizing the importance of diversifying revenue streams and reassessing the importance of quality over quantity.
Digital media company Intermarkets, which helps brands to connect with the most useful advertisers, is focused on cracking the digital publishing code. Jake Ambrose, the company's marketing operations director, talked to Publishing Insider about how publishers can avoid the pitfalls that plagued Little Things and thrive in an increasingly unstable digital environment.
Publishing Insider (PI): After the news that Little Things would close, how large a scale do you think the algorithm is hitting other publishers?
Jake Ambrose (JA): Publishers have enjoyed the scale and reach of Facebook for years. The platform's pivot to serve users and "clean up" the News Feed has had a significant, widespread effect on publishers across all verticals. Any digital publishers that have not been actively pursuing audience growth outside of Facebook over the past two years will feel the impact of the algorithm change.
PI: Aside from Facebook, what types of traps should publishers avoid to maintain a robust digital business?
JA: Publishers should double down on the quality of their content. In the era of social growth, many have fallen victim to sensationalizing content to draw a quick influx of readers. The traffic was there, but it was a short-term lift. That led to many publishers getting blacklisted by the big providers. With all that traffic, publishers were tempted by dollar signs and loaded up on inventory.
PI: What was the result?
JA: These ad-bloated pages introduced a couple of issues. First, users got irritated and sought their content fix elsewhere or ran ad blockers. Another problem was the overall impact on inventory value. More units means content, and other ads get pushed down the page and out of sight.
Publishers should focus on what it is that keeps your audience coming back while also being able to draw new readers. Make sure you're optimizing and paying close attention to the user experience when they arrive at the page. Keep a healthy balance of inventory and content with a nice, clean layout.
With Facebook swiftly denying reach to its users, publishers are flocking to other social media platforms to experiment with audience growth. While some might see great short-term success, they should hold fast to the idea that it's never an effective strategy to put significant dependence on any one traffic source.
PI: With ad blockers and unpredictable algorithm changes, how can publishers thrive going forward?
JA: Publishers should continue to prioritize user experience. From content to site design, they should always be working toward the best possible digital experience for the target audience. In addition to building a diverse network of traffic sources, a premium reader environment will ensure loyalty and lasting visits.
© 2018 MediaPost Communications.
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