Google reveals sites that fail ad test including Forbes, LA Times, Lifehacker, Chicago Tribune Google reveals sites that fail ad test including Forbes, LA Times, Lifehacker, Chicago Tribune

Google reveals sites that fail ad test including Forbes, LA Times, Lifehacker, Chicago Tribune

Critics say Google shouldn’t be the arbiter of how publishers monetize their sites. So far though, publishers seem to have little choice but to do what Google wants.


Publishers that have fretted about Google’s plans to unleash an ad-blocking version of Chromein 2018 can now see if their own sites’ ads will be blocked by the tech giant.

On June 1, Google rolled out its Ad Experience Report, a tool it’s using to evaluate and score websites based on their ad creative and design. It provides screenshots and videos of ads that have been identified as annoying to users, such as pop-ups and autoplaying video ads with sound, and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers.

So far, Google has identified about 700 sites as warranting corrective action out of around 100,000 sites it’s reviewed so far. Half of the roughly 700 got a “failing” status and the other half a “warning.” Pop-ups were the most common problem Google found, accounting for 96 percent of violations on desktop and 54 percent on mobile.

Most of these sites are out of the mainstream, such as entertainment sites and But a couple dozen are a who’s who of traditional media. Those listed as failing include Forbes; Tronc-owned Orlando Sentinel, Sun-Sentinel and Los Angeles Times; Bauer Xcel Media’s Life & Style and In Touch Weekly; The Wrap; Chicago Sun-Times; Tribune Broadcasting’s Fox 13 Now; and Sporting News.

A similar number of mainstream sites got warnings. They included Kiplinger, Gizmodo Media Group’s Lifehacker, The Jerusalem Post, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Cox Media Group’s WSB-TV in Atlanta, Tronc’s Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, the U.K. Independent, The Daily Caller, Reader’s Digest, All You, Smithsonian, New York Daily News, Salt Lake Tribune and CBS News.

Google underscored that it hasn’t hashed out all the enforcement details yet. One aspect of the plan that may raise alarms with publishers is that Google hasn’t ruled out filtering all of a failing site’s ads — not just the offending ads. Google also didn’t specify what exactly would lead a site to be labeled “failing.” It said “warning” would apply to publishers with “two or more violations” but that these sites wouldn’t be blocked.

Once the new version of Chrome with the ad filter launches next year, Google said it would pull ads from failing publishers’ sites if they don’t fix the violations within 30 days. Google is using the Better Ads Standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads, an alliance of heavy-hitters in advertising and media such as Unilever, GroupM and The Washington Post that was formed to clean up digital advertising. Google is a founding member of the coalition.

The tool is meant to give publishers a way to fix their sites well before Google launches its Chrome ad blocker and to give advertisers and their representatives a way to avoid having their ads run on sites that have a poor user experience. Google also said publishers can use the tool to request a new review after they fix their sites and report if they think they were unfairly identified as having violations.

Along with Google’s ad blocker news, Apple recently said it would update its Safari browser to block video ads that autoplay and stop ad tracking. The platform giants’ moves are seen as a response to users and a way to ward off ad blocking, but publishers see them as a way to solidify control over the platforms’ own digital ad market share, which has grown at the expense of publishers.

Critics also say Google shouldn’t be the arbiter of how publishers monetize their sites (while protecting its own revenue by leaving alone its ads on YouTube and by paying the popular ad blocker AdBlock Plus to make sure its own ads aren’t blocked). No one would argue that users enjoy autoplay video, but the concern is that clamping down on it has a disproportionate impact on independent publishers. It’s worth noting that many of the flagged sites belong to single-title companies or are legacy publishers that are struggling to modernize. Tronc’s digital ad revenue has been dwindling. The Daily News is said to be losing millions a year.

So far, publishers would seem to have little choice but to do what Google wants, though. Ben Gerst, Tronc’s svp of product development, said the company was focused on a better experience for users and advertisers and that it was working with Google and implementing changes to meet the Coalition’s standards. Grant Whitmore, evp of digital at the Daily News, said the paper’s warning status was related to an ad tech partner and in-image ad that was supposed to meet industry ad standards but was somehow getting flagged, and that the publisher was working with Google to resolve it.

A spokesman for Lifehacker, meanwhile, raised the specter of misidentification, however, saying: “Our Kinja publishing platform has always taken a very audience-centric approach to how we integrate advertising and we believe that practice will ultimately benefit our sites ahead of any upcoming changes in the market, including the new version of Chrome. We don’t believe is currently out of step with existing U.S. better ad standards.”

All publishers are embracing the user experience mantra, but getting there is another matter. Paul Likins, vp of revenue operations at American Media Inc., whose Men’s Fitness and National Enquirer sites were cited for violations, said it’s not always clear from Google’s tool what the violation is, making it confusing for publishers trying to fix them. And fixing them means replacing the revenue generated by offending ads, which isn’t easily done. Google’s approach feels “heavy-handed,” but publishers have to comply, lest they risk not just repercussions from Google but advertisers, who used to clamor for “disruptive” ads, he said.

“We’re all trying to fix this, but we’re moving from a vendor-based business model,” he said. “It takes time, money and resources.”

Paul Vincent is founder of Neuranet, a tech company that helps publishers comply with Interactive Advertising Bureau specs for fast-loading, non-invasive ads. He said an unintended consequence of a company like Google being the arbiter of the web is that small publishers may just throw up their hands and hand over more of their tech needs to Google, thinking that’ll at least ensure their sites won’t be blocked.

“It’s gotten too much power over what’s acceptable,” he said of Google. “When it makes these releases, it can have a massive effect across the industry and sometimes contributes to its dominance because of the confusion.”


Shared from: Digiday

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

back to top


How RBC is using a blockchain to overhaul its loyalty program

“We see loyalty as a great use case for blockchain to allow us to provide customers more real-time access to rewards points to provide an almost Starbucks-like experience.”

Why finance brands are so hot on content marketing

Content is one way to make people return to their site to see new updates, buy new products and invest more money.

Reddit now allows users to upload videos

Videos are coming to Reddit, thanks to a new feature that allows users to upload video clips directly to the service.

Sharp sues Hisense over a foreign “gag order”

Sharp, a Japanese electronics manufacturer, has filed a lawsuit challenging a foreign gag order that company lawyers say prevents Sharp from talking about its own brand.

How A Police Body Camera Company Is Becoming An Artificial Intelligence Company

Like most technology companies today, Axon’s goal is to collect data; the free body camera trial is just another avenue to generate and collect more of it.

Mic Lays Off Dozens Just a Week After Promising Not To

A number of online outlets, including Mashable, Vice, and MTV News, have recently slashed their writing staffs to focus on producing visual content

Kit Kat accused of copying Atari game

Kit Kat's maker Nestle has been accused of copying Breakout, the 1970s computer game, in a marketing campaign.

YouTube TV expands to 14 new markets

YouTube is broadening access to live TV streaming as younger viewers increasingly watch shows online and traditional broadcast networks grapple with aging demographics among viewers.

Hyundai looks to build a >300-mile-range electric car

More carmakers are looking toward electric vehicles as fuel cell falters

Why Bancor Wants To Become The YouTube Of Cryptocurrency

If Bancor overcomes the initial scandals (it shortchanges its users' by rounding token values) Bancor could reshape the cryptocurrency marketplace as we know it.

The best of Siri: 11 funny responses from the iPhone's virtual assistant

Since its launch in 2011, Siri has become increasingly intelligent, and can now hold basic two-way conversations with users.

How Yogscast built a media empire

The newer generation doesn’t want to be told how to do things, they want to see it.

Skype’s new look arrives on the desktop in preview form

The chat-focused update comes with new features for messaging and calls.

Twitter investor helps develop blockchain-based social media platform

The proposed Twitter version will have no central authority and the users will be able to monetize their contributions.

Bitcoin's biggest software wallet blockchain adds ethereum

It's the latest sign bitcoin businesses are now adapting their business models to support multiple blockchains.

Uber slapped with FTC audits for next 20 years due to privacy lapses

According to the latter, Uber didn’t do enough to protect the privacy of its riders or drivers.

Google Home can now make calls and it won’t cost you a dime

Say “Hey Google, call *contact name*” and you’ll be on your way

E-sports platform to launch $100 million cryptocurrency sale

Unikrn embraced cryptocurrency as a way to bypass banking institutions.

Alibaba beats on earnings as e-commerce remains core revenue driver

Alibaba's stock is up more than 81 percent this year

Nokia 8 smartphone takes 'bothie' videos

The device can capture video from both its front and rear-facing cameras at the same time, and broadcast the images side-by-side to YouTube and other livestreaming services.

Chatbot helps students choose courses

Students can chat to the AI about the options available to them Leeds Beckett University has launched a chatbot to help prospective students find the right course. It follows the publication of A-level results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Using Facebook Messenger's...

EU-funded online privacy tool will protect your data – and help you sell it

“Privacy-for-Benefit” is still being developed but the plan is to create new business models which will allow users to partially trade their private data for “economic benefits” — which could be the first step towards personal data as currency.

Newton Mail finally comes to Windows for a cross-platform email experience

Newton Mail, a multi-platform email app that’s been available on Mac, iOS, and Android, is finally reaching the last major platform it had yet to be offered on: Windows 10. Aside from, you know, being offered on Windows, there’s not much...

Apple Watch to be sold alongside Aetna health insurance plans

Apple has already switched its marketing to focus on fitness and health. This is first move for insurance providers

How Ulta overhauled its business to edge out Sephora

Ulta has amassed the insights and data from 25 million people — it can share that information directly with its partner brands.

Samsung TVs now let you use Shazam to discover what songs are playing in movies and TV shows

Samsung is rolling out an update to its 2017 lineup of smart TVs that will allow anyone to find out what song is playing on a TV show or movie simply by tapping a button on their screen.

Unpatchable flaw lets attackers disable vehicle safety features

Instead of trying to inject a malicious message into a vehicle's controller area network, the attack overloads it with error messages.

Small businesses still forced into physical bank branches

It’s all about the customer experience, in the end.

Alipay connects with Yelp

'This expedites our goal towards a digital lifestyle'

Goldman tops banks betting on a new type of hedging

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has taken to investing large sums of money into outside ventures in a bid to disrupt the financial industry.

Subscribe to the Business Brief Newsletter

Get our complimentary briefing, featuring news & analysis of the business trends and practices.
Terms and Conditions