opinion

Winners Adapt to Google, as Pop-Unders Lose

Winners Adapt to Google, as Pop-Unders Lose

It’s easy to get carried away with the downside. We recently finished re-reviewing every image on our advertising network for “abusive experiences.” This amount of work was significant. Since we have hundreds of thousands of images from advertisers on our network, it was time consuming. It’s all thanks to Google punishing publishers for running fully legal advertisements from advertising companies that compete with Google.

We believe in the freedom and ability of publishers to be able to choose what advertisements are right for their audience. It’s why we allow all publishers to remove any ads they don’t like. We also allow publishers to run their own ads on their own websites and they can opt-out completely of our network banner ads.

Trust will be reinforced in website visitors as they click non-deceptive ads, and by feeling safer, they will click more. Trust will embolden more potential customers and conversion ratios can improve.

As a network, JuicyAds never actually wanted to provide pop-unders (one of the ad types now exiled by the “Better Ads Standards”) but we believed in providing publishers the option, and their ability to make the decision for themselves. That was before Google started punishing and blocking publishers for things like fake dating ads as well as player buttons and fake close buttons on their ads. There are thousands of these across the advertising ecosystem.

As history would now prove, many publishers are not able to make responsible decisions. The abuse of pop-unders is an easy example: Pops on every click, multiple pops, spawning pops, all with the short-term monetization and greed in mind. Long-term, clearly, these publishers have earned less money (at least on our network) as advertisers have blocked and removed them from their campaigns due to poor results. There is a balance between advertising, content and user experience that is critical to success and many simply don’t get it. You simply cannot bombard people with more advertising and expect to make more money. It doesn’t work.

People and governments create rules and laws when they are unable to come up with a solution through technology. People will exceed the speed limit and car makers don’t want to limit the performance ability of their vehicles (to the delight of car enthusiasts) so we create traffic laws, speed traps, photo radar and such. Likewise, Google is unable to stop people from adding pop-unders to their website, so they partner with a coalition to banish them from the web, and create standards for themselves that they then push onto others for their own profit. Make no mistake, banning pops on Google Chrome is a windfall for Google. Through this measure, on every website that has Google Ads on it, forcing publishers to abandon pops returns the “first click” on every Google advertisement back to Google, and away from the pop-under advertising company.

While some companies are attempting to cling to the past and the illusion that pop-unders will remain, the truth is they will slowly disappear from the web in their current form. Make no mistake that any “go around” will not survive manual review, and the support of the general public is not on the side of pop-unders. For a long time now, we have seen “mobile performance networks” allow their publishers to “opt-in” to malware, auto-downloads, tech support and other obviously unacceptable advertising. Now that we are at the dawn of “abusive experiences” being flagged by Google (including deceptive ads like those fake player buttons, bogus dating ads and download buttons) we see large advertising networks who have chosen to half-ass it, or completely ignore the new paradigm.

Many companies continue to provide bad ads, or allow publishers to “opt-in” to advertisements that are clearly misleading and deceptive. Allowing publishers to enable or disable fraudulent ads proves to be weak decision-making and failure to progressively lead in the face of potentially lower profits. While we would love to provide publishers the ability to make their own decisions, continuing to support the ads in violation of the “abusive experiences” puts those websites at risk, and will potentially result in the removal of those publishers from Google’s search results.

Even though we are not thrilled with the change, JuicyAds grew a pair and made a real decision. We have removed the misleading ads, instead of providing the option for publishers to manually opt-in or remove them. I have been highly critical of Google’s position in this shift. Clearly there is a conflict of interest and a likely target of legal challenge. However, as terrible as it is for one company to decide and dictate through their influence, that is what happens in pretty much every other industry. When one company makes a decision or innovates, it forces others to innovate or to change as well. The alternative is to become obsolete or to fall into obscurity. Once again, I point to the auto industry and the likes of Tesla and Volvo, pushing heavily into electrics, sensors and ultimately self-driving vehicles. The cars put out by these companies will be the coolest, fastest and most sophisticated vehicles on the planet, and there will be losers. Full disclosure — I own a significant stake in Tesla.

There will be winners. Much like innovation in other industries, advertising in the adult industry will have winners. As much as I’d like to bitch about everything that’s wrong with the short-term effects of having to sift through our entire network and remove misleading ads (and lets be honest, fake player buttons are misleading click bait) it means that the remaining ads will receive more clicks (and they’ll be more relevant). Those advertisers will receive more sales and strengthen their ability to buy more. Trust will be reinforced in website visitors as they click non-deceptive ads, and by feeling safer, they will click more. Trust will embolden more potential customers and conversion ratios can improve. The ecosystem as a whole will be better after this change than it is now, but change is difficult when your back is up against the wall. Good advertisers will be the winners.

The fundamental truth is that fake player buttons, fake close buttons and other ad elements that trick people into clicking is not going to drive good sales and trust from the consumer. Fake close buttons, especially, deliver clicks to the landing page when the visitor has already conclusively decided they have zero interest in your advertisement. These ads just deliver cheap and low quality traffic to advertisers who rely on huge volumes. Most buyers, however, rely on quality clicks pre-qualified to be interested in what they are selling. This is the way Google has made themselves into the advertising giant they are. As much as it pains me to say it, that logic means that we should perhaps be closely watching the cues from Google, rather than aggressively fighting them.

My ultimate advice for anyone who is still stuck on continuing with fake player buttons and high volume? Remove the player icon and place blind images instead, preferably images that match the type of content or product you’re selling. They are compliant and will drive comparable click through ratios without putting your website or advertising strategy at risk of Google’s banhammer. Grow a pair and get creative, and you’ll win.

Juicy Jay is the CEO and founder of JuicyAds, the Sexy Advertising Network. You can follow Jay on Twitter @juicyads, visit JuicyAds.com or like on Facebook.com/juicyads.

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