Issue #231

Google Chrome drops the hammer on abusive experiences

Google Chrome drops the hammer on abusive experiences

Google is rolling out a new update to Chrome – version 71. And while I wouldn’t normally talk about a browser update here on The Edge, this one has some changes that are part of a larger trend you should be aware of as a blog owner. Especially if you are trying to use advertising to make a buck.

Last month, Google announced that Chrome was going to begin to shut down ads on sites that have what they call “abusive experiences”.

Now, what does that mean? Stuff like…

  • Anything which is deceptive, for instance hitting a close button on a popup ad only to have that trigger more ads.
  • Links which, when clicked, start trying to install an app to your machine.
  • Anything which uses fake messages, like system warnings, which are actually ads.
  • Ads that show a moving mouse pointer that is trying to trick the user.

You can see what Google is considering abusive here.

Now, if you’re running ads on your blog, you might think you’re not doing any of these things. And, you could very well be right. But, thing is… Google is going to hold YOU accountable for anything going on on your site even if you’re not the one serving it up.

This means, if you are serving up network ads and one of the advertisers engages in abusive experiences, YOUR site might get flagged for it.

My background as a tech blogger tells me that, even when networks give assurances that such things won’t happen, they still might. I remember having some ads that did some crap like this and I never approved them. I ended up having to deal with the network to stop serving up such ads on my site.

From the sounds of it, Google isn’t going to just drop the ban hammer without warning here. You’ll get a 30 day window to figure out the problem before Chrome removes your ads.

So, another thing to be aware of if you’re serving up ads on your blog still. But, it is just part of a wider trend that affects the wider world of blog monetization.

As I’ve always said, I think banner ads are the dumbest way to monetize your blog. I guess that’s a fairly blunt statement, but it remains true. You can make WAY WAY more money with far less traffic if you pursue it as a real business rather than try to play the publisher game monetized with ads.

End users are getting increasingly annoyed with banner advertising. They don’t like all the clutter on the screen. They don’t like their web browsers slowing down due to the higher CPU usage. They don’t like the feeling of their privacy being invaded. So… while today “abusive” is being defined as things we would all agree are deceptive, that goal post can – and will – move.

Furthermore, look at what’s going on here with Chrome…

Google has already inserted itself into damn near everything. They pretty much control search. And, in order to extend their reach (and control) to internet activity that isn’t even part of their purview, they come up with Google Chrome. If you don’t think Google can see the sites you’re visiting, you’re naive. And, in this case, Google is unilaterally making a move which can shut down a major revenue stream for you.

It is because Google is the ultimate middleman, playing the role of benevolent dictator.

Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing to police abusive experiences. As an end user, I’m cool with it. But, at the same time, it makes quite apparent how much control Google really has.

Do we want to put our fates into the hands of Google anyway?

There’s got to be better ways.

And there is.

It is called building up a real business around your blog. By “real” I mean one which crafts offers to the audience and sells them directly. Actually SERVE your market rather than pushing more ads into their eyeballs.

My goal with The Lab is to make banner ads obsolete for my students. They will be making far more money and be far less annoying. And they’ll be immune to any ad changes coming down the pike, now or later.

I realize, though, that banner ads aren’t going anywhere.

In my next issue of The Edge, I’d like to share something I’ve come across that I think could grow to be an AWESOME solution to banner advertising. No, it isn’t about blocking anything. It is about calling a truce… in a way which rewards both advertisers AND publishers. I think it has a lot of potential, but it is still early days.

I’ll share it with ya on the next issue. See ya then.

– David

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