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Ad density can be just as problematic as bad ads

On Feb. 15, Chrome began blocking disruptive ad formats in compliance with standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA).

While attention has largely focused on poor ad formats that agitate consumers, rather than engage them, the initiative also takes aim at mobile pages overloaded with ads, no matter how consumer-friendly they may be.

Therein lies the tightrope for publishers. Ad density – pages being far too packed with brand messaging and creative – is rarely talked about with regard to online and mobile media, yet the overload of ads is just as annoying to consumers as the disruptive formats.

Not so for online media, especially when mobile burst onto the scene. Publishers scrambled to monetize mobile traffic and the ad inventory placed there. The solution at the time was simply to place more ads on the page, regardless of quality.

Ad blockers and now the CBA’s Better Ads Standards are the pushback, the course correction for an industry that’s drifted away from the consumer experience, and even further away from the guiding principles that should govern more of advertising.

There are plenty of resources to help reduce the grey area around which ad formats and density levels are acceptable. Google’s Ad Experience report allows companies to enter URLs and receive a score and possible fixes. The Coalition for Better Ads sets the standard for ad density at 30% of the page.

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