What Retailers Need to Know About Google’s Ad Blocker
One of the surefire ways to annoy your website visitors is to expose them to an aggressive barrage of pop-ups and banner ads. This is especially true for e-commerce sites, where any unwanted disruption to your carefully planned online journey frustrates shoppers and leads to lost conversions.
Google recently introduced ad blocking in its Chrome browser to combat this issue. And while it’s a positive move for Chrome users, online retailers need to be aware of the differences between legitimate ads and unauthorized injected ads wreaking havoc on their carefully curated e-commerce experiences and the way Google treats each one of these.
One thing these ads have in common is that they're highly annoying and disruptive to users. Apart from that, we're looking at two very different animals when it comes to how these ads arrive on a website, what their impact is to the retailer, and what it takes to stop them. Essentially, there are two major differences between the ads Google is focused on and the unauthorized ads running on e-commerce sites.
Intended Legitimate Ads vs. Unauthorized Injected Ads
While frustrating to many users, the ads Google Chrome blocks are legitimate. These are often banner and video ads that are an approved stream of traffic monetization for many sites where advertising revenue is a core part of their business model. They may be annoying, and Google is now stepping in to keep their tactics more honest, but online ads that pass these Better Ads Standards going forward will still appear to users because they’re authorized to be there by the site itself.
On the other hand, the ads caused by what’s referred to as online journey hijacking are invading e-commerce sites and aren't asking for permission to be there. Rather than being served as part of the page, these unauthorized ads are injected into consumer browsers by digital malware running on consumer devices. Malware gets on consumer devices when users download legitimate software such as program updates or service bundles like free PDF viewers, and ironically anti-virus programs. Unauthorized ads can also be injected into users’ browsers when they're browsing the web on public Wi-Fi networks.
Targeting users on their personal browsers allows these intrusive ads to bypass server-side visibility or control over their activity, which is exactly what they were developed to do. In fact, the retailer or brand doesn’t even know that these ads appear on the user’s browser while shopping their online store. Users infected with these ad injections are met with competitor product recommendation widgets, pop-ups, banners and in-text redirects, all aiming to divert them away from the e-commerce site to other promotions. While both ad types are disruptive to the user, illegitimate ads are essentially trespassing websites to hijack their visitors and conversions.
Preventing Unauthorized Ads Requires a Disruptive Approach
Since the source of these ads is completely different, they each require a different approach to prevent them.
Google is instilling compliance standards over irritating, albeit legitimate ads (in partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads). The search company evaluate sites by examining a sample of pages. Depending on how many of the standards’ violations are found, Google will assign the site with a score of either "passing," "warning," or "failing."
Online journey hijacking, on the other hand, requires technology that monitors and analyzes hundreds of millions of web sessions all the way to consumer browsers. By using pattern analysis techniques, technology can learn to classify web activity as malicious and block it from running. By blocking injections on the shopper’s browser, unauthorized ads are prevented from disrupting the customer experience.
Undoubtedly, both of these types of ads are annoying to visitors. However, they each serve very different interests for different businesses. Therefore, specific methods are needed to prevent them. While Google Chrome’s blocking technology will focus on legitimate ad types, it won’t have any effect on unauthorized ads disrupting shopping experiences. What’s needed are new approaches and technologies that preserve the integrity of the online customer experience.
Ohad Greenshpan is co-founder and chief technology officer at Namogoo, a company that helps online businesses protect the customer journey.
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Ohad Greenshpan is co-founder & CTO at Namogoo, a company that was created with the mission of preserving an optimized online customer journey. The Namogoo platform provides visibility and control over the impact of third-party services on website performance and business KPIs. Ohad is an entrepreneur with a rich background in advanced Big Data and Machine Learning technologies.