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Starting December, Google Chrome will shut down ads on any site with “abusive experiences”

Google has decided to turn up the heat in its battle against rogue ads, and this time they have decided to block any website that offers “abusive experiences”—experiences designed to intentionally mislead and trick users into taking action on the web—from showing any ads.

Last year, Google launched a set of user protections that blocked pop-ups and new window requests from sites with certain abusive experiences like redirecting pages. Unfortunately, most site owners were not deterred by these initiatives.

“Not far enough”

The company found that more than half of abusive experiences are not blocked by their current set of protections, and nearly all involve harmful or misleading ads.

“We’ve learned since then that this approach did not go far enough,” says Vivek Sekhar, Product Manager at 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.”

Two types of abusive experiences where a deceptive site control appears to do one thing, but has a different behavior when clicked. One looks like a play button on a video but sends the user to an unwanted download when clicked (above), and the other looks like a close button but instead opens unwanted pop-up windows (below).

Chrome will remove all ads on sites with abusive experiences

To better protect users against these abusive experiences, Google has announced expanded efforts to rein in site owners offering harmful ad experiences on the web.

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

“Site owners can use the Abusive Experiences Report in their Google Search Console to see if their site contains any of these abusive experiences that need to be corrected or removed.

Site owners will have a 30 day window to fix experiences flagged by the report before Chrome removes ads.”

The feature will be enabled by default and can be turned off by users, although most users are unlikely to interfere with their browser settings.

Google is hoping its stronger protections will ensure users can interact with their intended content on the web, without abusive experiences getting in the way.

Publishers beware

Publishers need to be doubly careful of the ads served on their sites, since Google’s guidelines are quite stringent in this regard.

“We review all content on your site, regardless of whether or not it’s served from your domain. For example, content loaded into an iframe or video player on your site is considered part of your site,” the company clarified.

A number of ad behaviors can be considered abusive, including elements that auto-redirect the page; resemblance to chat apps, warnings, system dialogs, or other notifications; typically non-clickable areas that lead to a landing page when clicked; page elements that resemble a mouse pointer; or links to unwanted software.

Click here for the comprehensive list

Publishers need to make sure they are compliant, or Google will simply shut down their ad revenue stream.


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