So We Love Google Advertising…Usually

Google has one of the largest and most accessible advertising programs on the planet. Many small companies, including my own, look to Google AdWords to gain inexpensive exposure to grow their businesses. By offering an advertising platform that gives its users the ability to control their budget and pay on a per click basis, with the price determined by an auction so that you don’t have to spend more than you need to, Google has created a win-win for everyone.

In fact, Google AdWords has been so successful that the company makes approximately 70% of its revenue from it’s AdWords platform, that’s over $30 billion a year and growing.

But enough about that, as an innovative tech company, Google is always trying new advertising technologies to increase their revenue, some do well, some fail miserably. I recently saw an ad that I felt, completely crossed the line for consumers, which you can view just below.

The Ad I Saw While Reading a Blog

Google-Ads-Block-Content

This is the screenshot that I took of the advertising that I saw. I came across it when I was reading this: Bar Rescue Update blog.

I was reading into the second paragraph when all of a sudden I came across this ad. At first it appeared as a normal ad to me that I was just going to skip over, but when I went to continue reading the article, I saw that the content had been grayed out so that I couldn’t read it. I then scrolled up to figure out what the deal was. I then see “Answer a survey question to continue reading this content” and in the right side of the ad it says “or share this site on social media”. This is one of the most invasive forms of advertising I’ve seen, as it interrupts the user experience to collect data about those who are viewing that particular website.

When I clicked on the ‘Learn More’ link, I was shown this message:

About-Surveys-on-Google

Notice how it says that they’re serving that question to the user based on the demographics and interests of the browser. Yes, they may not be making a specific profile for your actual Google account, but they are following the trends of your browser, based on the cookies that are on it.

Taking the Advertising a Step Further

I would assume that because they are profiling your browser, they are additionally dropping a cookie in the browser. Based on the answers to the users question, I’m sure that they will be served ads on other frequent websites that they visit based on the relevancy of the answer to their Google survey ads question.

For many of you, I have a feeling that the last two sentences probably sounded like they were in another language. To give some background, have you ever gone to a website, say “Website X”, and then all of a sudden you start seeing ads for “Website X” on other websites you visit? That’s because “Website X” is engaging in a common form of advertising called “Remarketing” where they dropped what’s called a “cookie” on your browser, which is a snippet of code that tells other websites within the advertising network that you’ve visited “Website X”. So you’ll start to see those ads show up around you, unless you clear our your browsing history and cookies on a regular basis.

Back to the original topic here. The fact that we’re now starting to see ads that are interfering with the content that you can read, that require the user to perform a task, to me crosses a line. Forcing readers to answer a question to continue to their blog content is in such poor taste, and to think that those consumers will be served certain ads after answering that question is even more ridiculous. I hope that this advertising tactic does not stay for long, as I believe it’s in Beta, which means it’s in a testing phase.