Google is about to crack down on ‘disruptive’ video ads

Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer at Google LLC, speaks during the Google Cloud Next ’19 event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Google said its Chrome browser will stop showing ads on sites that have “disruptive” video ads later this year based on a new set of standards released by the Coalition for Better Ads.

The Coalition’s “Better Ads Standards” define ad experiences that would not be acceptable for consumers and would be most likely to drive consumers to install ad blockers. Ads that fall beneath those standards, according to its consumer research, include auto-playing video ads that play sound without any user interaction, or large “Sticky Ads” that take up more than 30% of a screen and stick to a side of a mobile page regardless of a user’s attempt to scroll.

The group’s board members include Google itself, and other companies including Facebook, Microsoft and Unilever. Other members include ad-tech companies, agency holding companies and industry groups.

About two years ago, Google began blocking other ads on websites that weren’t compliant with the “Better Ads” standards. The latest announcement comes as Google is the subject of antitrust scrutiny in its advertising business and other areas. Last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked regulators to investigate the ad-blocking industry for anticompetitive behavior.

On Wednesday, the Coalition announced its standards for short-form video, which it defines as videos that are eight minutes or shorter. The group said non-skippable, pre-roll ads or groups of ads longer than 31 seconds that cannot be skipped within the first 5 seconds; ads of any duration in the middle of a video; and non-linear display ads that appear on top of a playing video and are in the middle third of a video player or cover more than 20% of the video content are all “particularly disruptive.”

Chrome said in a blog post that the Coalition has said website owners should stop showing those types of ads to site visitors within four months. Chrome said it will stop showing ads on sites in any country that repeatedly shows those ads on August 5, and that YouTube, which Google owns, will also be reviewed for compliance.

“Similar to the previous Better Ads Standards, we’ll update our product plans across our ad platforms, including YouTube, as a result of this standard, and leverage the research as a tool to help guide product development in the future,” the post said.

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