Google’s Chrome blog has set a December 2018 deadline for publishers to take down ads it deems abusive. Google encourages publishers to use it’s Abusive Experiences Report tool to identify abusive experiences and take them down.

What is an Abusive Experience Ad?

Google defines abusive experience advertising as advertising that tricks users into taking an action that the user did not intend. For example, tricking them to click a button that results in a download.

Last year’s Chrome update protected users from popups and redirects. However this new crackdown will affect additional tricks sometimes used by scammers.

Google shared an example of an abusive ad displayed on a mobile device that initiates an involuntary app install. This kind of ad will be blocked by Chrome 71 in December 2018.

According to Google:

“These ads trick users into clicking on them by pretending to be system warnings or “close” buttons that do not actually close the ad. Further, some of these abusive ad experiences are used by scammers and phishing schemes to steal personal information.”

Will Sites Lose Rankings?

Google’s announcement said nothing about rankings or what will happen if a publisher fails to take down abusive advertising other than Chrome 71 will block the ads.

The announcement wields a stick but it’s a very small stick. 

  1. Does this mean that sites with abusive ads will still rank in search engines?
  2. Or does the announcement reflect that Google is already blocking these sites?

The announcement makes no mention of punitive actions beyond blocking the harmful ads, which may give bad actors little incentive to take down these kinds of abusive experiences. If Google is not already algorithmically penalizing sites with abusive advertising, this could serve as a warning of an algorithmic action against sites with abusive ads.

If this is true, and this is speculation, then any algorithmic penalization would occur in December 2018. Under this scenario, the period between now and December 2013 could be considered a grace period allowing sites to avoid a penalty.

How Many Sites are Affected?

Google’s announcement made a reference to a small number of sites that continue to provide abusive experiences. But that word, small is relative in consideration of the size of the Internet.

Here’s what Google said:

“Starting in December 2018, Chrome 71 will remove all ads on the small number of sites with persistent abusive experiences.”

Will Chrome 71 Affect You?

It’s an open question if using Google’s AdSense program means that your site is safe. In January 2018 Trend Micro reported that hackers were using Google’s DoubleClick to download unwanted apps. Perhaps not coincidentally, that is the example of a kind of abusive ad Google shared in it’s announcement.

This update coming to Chrome 71 may not affect your site. But it’s likely a prudent idea to check your site in the Abusive Experiences Tool to check if anything is flagged by Google as abusive.

Some ad networks publish advertising that is abusive.

Google’s Abusive Experiences Tool:

Read the announcement here:

More Resources

Images by Shutterstock, Modified by Author
Screenshots by Author, Modified by Author

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