Google Ads Destination Requirements Policy: A Publisher’s Guide

If you use Google Search Ads, then you’ve probably received the following email regarding the company’s new Destination requirements policy:


“Dear Advertiser,

In October 2022, the Destination requirements policy will be updated to include a new policy requiring ad experiences on destinations to conform to the Coalition for Better Ads’ Better Ads Standards. Destinations containing ad experiences that do not conform to the Better Ads Standards will be informed via the Ad Experience Report, and any ads that lead to such destinations will be disapproved.

For more information about the types of disallowed ad experiences, please visit the Coalition for Better Ads website. For more information on the Ad Experience Report, please visit the Web Tools Help Center or Ad Experience Report Forum.

We will begin enforcing the policy update in October 2022.

Our records show that this policy change may affect your account. Please remove any disallowed ad experiences before October 2022. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

The Google Ads Team”


We’re not going to lie, it’s a pretty intimidating email. Especially if you haven’t given a second thought to the Coalition for Better Ad Standards for that matter.

As this policy impacts ad tech players, let’s break it down to better understand what it means and how it affects publishers. Fortunately, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Google’s newest ad policy.

What is the new Google Ads Destination requirements policy?

The most simple explanation of the new policy is that starting October 2022, any ads leading to destination pages that contain ads that are disruptive or annoying will be disapproved.

In a sense, Google has always kept certain policies in place to keep certain ad formats from disrupting UX. However, this policy in particular will follow the Better Ads Standards to outline what constitutes as one of these disapproving ad experiences.

If you’re wondering why Google is cracking down on advertisers with this new policy, the answer is also simple: It’s all about UX. It always has been and always will be. As it stands, annoying ad experiences like animated pop-ups, flashing ads, or video ads that auto-play with the sound on are known for disrupting the user experience.

They’re also the main reason why more and more people are installing adblockers.

It goes without saying that when adblockers come into play, publishers have a much more difficult time generating ad revenue. When publishers can’t make money, the entire digital advertising ecosystem hits a wall. This becomes a problem for everyone in the ad tech world.

Let’s break down the new policy by the language used to get a better understanding of what it all means:

Destination requirements policy

Generally speaking, there are already policies in place to ensure that users have the best experience possible when clicking on a Google ad. This is because Google wants to “support a healthy digital advertising ecosystem—one that is trustworthy and transparent […].”

It’s the same value that Google places on website content that exhibits expertise, authority, and trust (EAT). Again, this is because Google places UX above all else, and is therefore continuously improving to ensure it can constantly deliver an optimal experience.

Destination

The “destination” that Google is referring to is the place (web page) users land on when they click on a Search ad. This could be a homepage, about page, landing page, products page, app store page, or an app itself.

To recap, wherever a user lands after clicking on an ad is considered a destination.

Disapproval

“…Any ads that lead to such destinations will be disapproved.” This is what the email from Google mentions in regard to destinations with ad experiences that don’t follow the standards set forth by the Coalition for Better Ads.

Essentially, any paid ads you publish that violate the terms of Google Ads’ ad policies will get disapproved. This means that the ads in question won’t run until the disapproved ad or ad element is fixed.

Coalition for Better Ads

The Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) refers to the nonprofit organization that was founded just a few years ago. The organization works to ensure better user experiences when it comes to online ads. It is comprised of several large companies, as well as international trade associations.

This would include Google itself, Facebook, Index Exchange, and the good old International Advertising Bureau (IAB), among others.

The CBA relies on consumer insights and industry expertise to create and implement a global standard — the Better Ads Standard — for online advertising to address user Web expectations.

Better Ad Standards

The CBA surveyed hundreds of ad formats to figure out how to secure the best possible ad experiences for users. They ended up defining 18 specific secondary ad types (the ads that appear on the primary ad’s destination page or content) that would be considered disruptive and therefore a “disallowed experience” that would garner disapproval.

These 18 specific ad types are what make up the BAS. They include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Pop-up ads
  • Automatic audio-playing ads with sound
  • Prestitial ads with a countdown
  • Large sticky ads
  • Full-screen scroll-over ads
  • Flashing animated ads

The ad types are broken down into categories for desktop, mobile, short-form video, and mobile app ad types, which are laid out clearly on the CBA’s Better Ads Standards web page.

If your ad layout includes a multitude of ad types, it may be difficult to identify where the problematic ones lie. That’s where the Ad Experience Report comes in.

Ad Experience Report

The Ad Experience Report helps publishers identify any ads on their site that do not adhere to the BAS. Upon identifying these ads, the Ad Experience Report tool will recommend the most user-friendly replacements.

The report is automatically generated by Google and will offer 4 potential statuses for your website.

  • Not reviewed
  • Review pending
  • Failing
  • Passing

A Not reviewed or Pending status means that you will have to wait until Google completes its review process for your website. A Passing status indicates that no other actions will be needed, and your website should not violate the destination policy. A violation is more likely to occur if your website receives a Failing status.

If this is the case, all is not lost.

We’ve outlined what it means if your website has a failing status, and how you can resolve it.

Why should publishers care?

If you use paid search advertising via Google Ads to drive new users to your website in order to monetize them, this new policy will interfere with your monetization potential.

For starters, if you don’t adhere to this new policy, the ads in violation will be paused. You’ll be notified immediately, you won’t be able to run the ad until you fix the issue.

Fortunately, you will have the opportunity to appeal a disapproved ad. Since ads typically go through an approval process based on a certain algorithm, there’s a chance that one of yours could end up getting disapproved without having actually violated a policy. Once notified of the disapproval, you can dispute the decision or submit the changes you’ve made to fix the ad.

What can publishers do to prepare?

If you use Google Ads to direct traffic to your website(s), you’ll need to make some adjustments to avoid any violations. Essentially, you’ll need to make sure that all your ads are compliant with the CBA’s new standards. It also doesn’t hurt to work on improving the overall user experience on your website by creating better ad experiences.

Here are a few things you can do to get ready for Google’s new ad policy:

  • Get familiar with the updated Destination requirements policy: You need to have a firm understanding of the new policy requirements so you can stay compliant and avoid any penalties.
  • Create better ad experiences: Aim to cut out intrusive ad formats and place ads in better and more strategic locations.
  • Keep an eye on your site’s performance: You always want to monitor your website’s performance to see what’s working and what isn’t working. However, now you also want to ensure that your website is consistently meeting Google’s various standards. There are plenty of tools you can use, including Google’s PageSpeed Insights to pinpoint any site issues.
  • Keep an eye on your ad performance: You’ll also want to monitor your ad account to ensure that all the ad experiences you’re providing are compliant with the new policy requirements. This means you’ll need to become familiar with Google’s Ad Experience Report to help you identify any issues and prevent violations and downtime.

Don’t just stop at Better Ads

BAS is not the only framework geared toward creating a respectful Web experience for users. There is also the Acceptable Ads Standard. While both standards focus on creating a better advertising experience for users, they serve completely different purposes as summarized in our Acceptable Ads guide.

The main difference is that BAS focuses on improving the UX by reducing ads and the general quality of display advertising. Acceptable Ads, however, addresses the revenue that publishers are losing right now due to adblocking. It aims to empower publishers to monetize their adblock users through non-intrusive and relevant advertising.

Acceptable Ads

The Acceptable Ads program aims to establish a healthy middle ground between the legitimate needs of users who want to block annoying advertising and publishers who depend on ad revenue to stay profitable. It enforces this through the Acceptable Ads Standard.

Rather than block all ads, which is detrimental to the open Web, the Standard enables publishers to serve ads that meet a predefined criteria to a segment of consented adblock users who don’t mind advertising so long as it’s uninterruptive to their regular browsing experience.

Monetizing with the Acceptable Ads Standard can allow publishers to recover the revenue lost to adblockers.

We believe that both Standards will help make the Web more sustainable across all ad tech stakeholders. This includes advertisers, publishers, and users alike. When possible, publishers should participate in both.

In summary

Google’s updated Destination requirements policy may seem alarming if paid traffic is your main acquisition channel, but it can be easily addressed.

Start by running your website through the Ad Experience Report found in Google Search Console. If you receive a Failing status, use the report to identify if the issue is related to your ad creatives or your website design. After rectifying your identified issues, submit a review request that includes a description of how you dealt with the issue.

Fixing your ad formats and layout will help comply with the Destination requirements policy. As a result, you’ll be able to run your Search ads without any concerns. However, if the user that clicks on the Search ad to access your website utilizes an adblocker, then you won’t be able to monetize them.

To resolve this, you will need a solution that can monetize adblock users while complying with the Acceptable Ads Standard. Implementing an adblock recovery solution compliant with Acceptable Ads like Blockthrough will mitigate your revenue loss from the get-go.

Speak to our team to learn more about how Blockthrough can recover your adblocked revenue.

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