How to reduce adblocking with the Ad Experience Report

Originally posted on

Can you imagine a world where we had to pay to view all content on the internet?

It would be madness.

That’s why we rely on digital advertising to keep the internet free-to-use. There’s an unspoken agreement where users enjoy free content in return for viewing ads. In fact, 67% of users prefer to view advertising versus paying for the same content.

However, this does not mean that publishers can cram their web pages with ads and hope for the best. While it may increase your ad revenue, this approach risks hurting your user experience.

Core Web Vitals is one recent example that demonstrates how seriously major ad tech platforms, like Google, take user experience. Taking it one step further, we’ve seen the creation of regulated standards that assess a website’s ad experience to account for it.

For instance, the Acceptable Ads and Better Ads frameworks.

This piece will focus on Better Ads. Specifically, the Coalition for Better Ads, which was created by Google in tandem with major ad tech platforms, associations, and brands such as:

  • American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s)
  • Association of National Advertisers (ANA)
  • IAB, IAB Europe, IAB Tech Lab, as well as additional national and regional IABs
  • P&G
  • Unilever
  • The Washington Post
  • and more

According to the 2021 PageFair Adblock Report, the biggest motivation behind using an adblocker was to avoid interruptive or annoying ad experiences. However, what’s considered an annoying ad experience?

Enter the Google Ad Experience report.

Failure to address the issues noted in this report will trigger an ad filtering process in which a blank space may appear instead of your ad for Chrome users. Assuming that a majority of your traffic comes from Chrome, this will affect your ability to monetize those users.

That’s why understanding what the Ad Experience report is and how it works is vital to your monetization strategy.

What is the Ad Experience Report?

The Ad Experience Report identifies advertising experiences that violate the Better Ads Standards as per the Coalition of Better Ads.

While adblock usage is continuously on the rise, publishers can mitigate this by providing a better ad experience. This report enables you to do just that.

You can access the report through Google Search Console. To do this, ensure that your web property is verified through Search Console. With the new interface, the report can be found via Web Tools located under Legacy Tools.

Earlier, we noted how the biggest motivation behind adblock usage was interruptive or annoying ad experiences. However, the same report found that when asked if adblock users were willing to accept light, non-intrusive advertising to support web publishers, 63% of respondents said “yes.”

This means that you are still able to monetize adblock users, so long as you provide an acceptable ad experience.

That’s where The Ad Experience Report comes in. It identifies which of these ad attributes are either considered annoying or acceptable.

How does the Ad Experience Report work?

One thing to note: The report is generated automatically by Google. If you see a Not reviewed status on your report, you will have to wait until Google runs their report for you.

What if your status is anything other than Not reviewed?

There are 3 other review statuses you may see on your report.

  • Review pending: your website has been submitted for review.
  • Failing: your website was reviewed and was flagged for multiple infringements of the Better Ads Standards.
  • Passing: no issues were detected during your website review.

In the example above, you’ll see that the report is divided by desktop and mobile. Google understands that users experience the web differently based on their device.

Now, you can easily determine which ad formats by device have issues that need to be resolved.

Hopefully, your status is either Review Pending or Passing. But what if you see a Failing status?

My website has a Failing status, now what?

Even if your website is currently receiving a Failing status, all is not lost. All website owners and users registered to your Search Console account will receive an email from Google notifying you of your website status.

Website owners should receive an email around 30 days before the ad filtering process begins. Giving you enough time to review your ad creative and website design to resolve any of the flagged issues. Once you submit your 1st review request, the ad filtering process is paused.

If your website fails the 1st review process, you can try resubmitting your 2nd request immediately. However, you will not be able to submit another request for 30 days after your 2nd request. Additionally, the ad filtering process may begin on the date noted in your report if your website is still considered “Failing.”

What’s considered an ad experience issue?

There are 2 types of issues that will be flagged by the report. Creative and site design issues.

Creative issues include:

  • Autoplay with sound (desktop)
  • Autoplaying video ads with sound (mobile)
  • Flashing animated ads (mobile)

Site design issues include:

  • Pop-up ads (desktop)
  • Prestitial ad with countdown (desktop)
  • Large sticky ad at bottom of screen (desktop)
  • Pop-up ad and prestitial ad (mobile)
  • Ad density higher than 30% (mobile)
  • Postitial ad with countdown (mobile)
  • Full-screen scroll over ad (mobile)
  • Large sticky ad (mobile)

Google will show you where they flagged each issue and what the experience looks like on your website.

Giving you a visual understanding of what needs to be fixed.

After resolving your identified issues, submit a request for your website to be reviewed again. You will need to include a detailed description of how you dealt with the issue in the “Request review” section.

What’s the Abusive Experience Report

View of Abusive Experience Report on Google Search Console

As you can see, your report does not only look for ad experience violations on desktop and mobile devices. It also filters for abusive experiences.

An abusive experience is meant to deceive users. For example, webpage features that include an arrow indicating to the user to view the next piece of content. However, upon clicking the arrow, the user is redirected to an ad.

Here is what Google considers to be an abusive experience with full descriptions.

It goes without saying that optimizing for user experience also includes not misleading them. Prior to submitting your review request, resolve any flagged abusive experiences.

In summary

Users are not against all ads, just the most interruptive and annoying ones.

Optimizing for user experience is one of the biggest goals for publishers. You can use the Ad Experience Report to improve your ad layout and provide a better user experience.

With the promise of a better (even, lighter) ad experience, users may be more inclined to turn off their adblocker to view your content. And on a larger time frame, it might also reduce the need for users to install adblockers and help decrease the growth of adblocking.

However, if a user decides to keep their adblocker on, you will need a solution to work around that. While you should always strive to offer a non-intrusive ad experience, adblocked users may not see the ads despite your efforts.

Additionally, the Ad Experience Report uses the Better Ads Standards as its base framework. In order to monetize users who use adblockers like Adblock or Adblock Plus, you will need a solution that allows you to monetize those users while maintaining compliance with the Acceptable Ads Standard.

Implementing an adblock recovery solution compliant with Acceptable Ads will mitigate your revenue loss from the get-go. That’s where Blockthrough comes in.

As the market leader in adblock revenue recovery, we’re helping publishers recover the revenue they are losing due to adblocking—without interrupting their users.

Publishers can have an adblock rate as high as 40% depending on traffic geo, ad density, industry vertical, and other factors. By neglecting to engage with your adblocked audience, you’re leaving your revenue on the table. Calculate how much we can recover for you with our recovery calculator.

Or, fill out our form below to get started with Blockthrough.

While you're here...

Did you know that the average publisher loses 10-40% of their revenue to ad blocking? What you may not know is that ad blocking has largely shifted to ad-filtering, with over 300M users allowing a safer, less interruptive ad experience to be served to them—in turn supporting their favorite sites and creators.

Blockthrough's award-winning technology plugs into publishers' header bidding wrapper and ad server to scan ad creatives for compliance with the Acceptable Ads Standard to activate this "hidden" audience and generate incremental revenue, while respecting the choice and experience of ad-filtering users.

Want to learn more?