Popular internet browsers Google Chrome and Apple Safari are ramping up their efforts to improve the user experience within their platforms by blocking annoying ads.
In early 2018 Google plans to release an updated Chrome browser version which will prevent most outstream video ads showing.
Apple’s Safari will implement similar functionalities with its latest update.
Here we’ll dive deeper into outstream ads, the specifics surrounding these browser updates, the effects of publishers utilizing outstream ads and more.
What are outstream video ads?
A while ago we published our MonetizeMore Publisher Guide To Video Advertising which is an excellent primer to video ads if all this seems foreign to you. Outstream refers to video ad units that appear within the contextual format of a page and a non-video based setting.
They can also make use of ad units that already exist on a page to display video ads. These videos ads often pop up on a page when the user scrolls to a particular location and autoplay with sound on which can make them very annoying for website visitors. Not all do this, and many variations exist, but you get the point.
On the other end, they can be excellent sources of revenue for publishers – hence the problem faced with when Google and Apple decided to start blocking them within their browsers. Thankfully, although the future seems uncertain, all is not lost yet as you’ll see when getting into the finer details.
Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of these updates, especially with regards to Chrome since various sources indicate that between 50%-60% of the internet uses the browser across different devices.
What changes can we expect from Chrome & Safari
In a recent blog post, Google announced that in January 2018 they would be releasing the Chrome 64 version update which will block outstream video ads in specific scenarios.
These autoplay videos will only show within the Chrome browser if there is particular interest from the user or plays automatically without sound (muted).
For a user to have indicated specific interest means that the user must have added the website to their home screen (mobile devices) or must have regularly streamed video content from the site on their desktop devices.
Another caveat which will allow autoplay video ads is when a user clicks or taps (mobile) somewhere on the page while browsing the site.
The plan is to make the user’s experience better within Chrome and allow them better control options specifically over audio. Earlier this year Google also added an option to Chrome which enabled users to mute any website completely.
For Chrome users, the new ad blocking improvements will help internet users save on data and power usage on mobile devices.
Regarding Apple’s Safari web browser, the controls and blocking options will be slightly different. Users will have the opportunity to prevent autoplay videos entirely or just mute those that autoplay with sound.
Recommendations from the Google Chrome developer guidelines
Even though the update for Chrome is Google’s attempt at improving user experience, it’s great to see that they have not entirely forgotten about publishers. The update could have included completely blocking outstream ads, but the focus remains on autoplay auto sound ads.
The Chrome guidelines lay the foundation for what Google thinks is acceptable regarding outstream video ads and what publishers should keep in mind:
- Autoplay video ads can generate very high engagement from users. However, publishers should test engagement when implementing outstream video ads. Most users find a sound that plays without warning disrupting and annoying. Some users also perceive autoplay videos as a waste of resources regarding data and battery usage.
- If you are set on using outstream ads, explore your options by starting out with a muted version of the ad and letting users enable sound themselves. Many premium publishers are utilizing this technique.
- Use native controls for video from within the browser to keep in line with autoplay policies.
Also, find out more about the recent Google oustream video ads launched in 2018.
The effects of publishers using it on the internet
According to an article from Business Insider and Walter Knapp from Sovrn Holdings, there will be significant changes coming to the outstream model in the future. For publishers, it’s a great ad format since it serves high RPMs and advertisers like it as engagement is high, but users not so much.
He argues that users should initiate the video and that as publishers continue to serve these ad formats that were not launched by users, it will fuel the ad blocking trend. It’s the smaller medium-sized publisher that takes the hit and start losing out on revenue.
Predictions for 2018
Recently MonetizeMore did a webinar on this topic where our CEO, Kean Graham, announced his predictions and talked about developments watch out for in 2018.
You can watch the webinar recording below or scroll down to read the highlights.
Here are some of the highlights of the webinar:
- Outstream video ads that are enabled with autoplay sound are currently blacklisted by the Coalition For Better Ads group.
- We predict that not only will all these ads eventually be blocked but that publishers will proactively start to remove them from the ad stacks.
- There is currently a high level of bot ad fraud within the video advertising space and lack of advertiser transparency.
- We predict that transparency and fraud detection for bot traffic will improve tremendously.
- Furthermore, the demand and supply of video advertising are continuously growing.
- We predict that the cost of producing video ads will massively decrease while the demand will continue to rise.
The future of outstream video ads seems uncertain at this moment. Auto-sound video ads have found their way onto the Coalition For Better Ads blacklist, Chrome and Safari will start blocking them and the industry is riddled with video ad fraud.
If your business model utilizes these ads in any way, you should heed the advice given in this article and keep a close eye on industry-specific developments. Better yet, subscribe to MonetizeMore’s email list and get the latest in adtech developments, industry news, and ad optimization strategies delivered straight to your inbox. Click here to subscribe now.