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Google Chrome, one of the leading web browsers available, is using its built-in ad blocker to block “annoying” or “intrusive” video ads.

The browser has been using an ad blocker to intervene when sites serve ads that are considered to be disruptive or problematic based on standards established by the Coalition for Better Ads.

Yesterday, the Coalition updated its Better Ads Standards to include new information about ads shown with online videos. As such, Google says it will be expanding its ad blocking features to block ads within videos less than 8 minutes long which are disruptive in any of the three following ways:

Disruptive ads - pre-roll

Image Source: The Coalition for Better Ads

  • Pre-roll ads: Long, non-skippable pre-roll ads or groups of ads longer than 31 seconds that appear before a video and cannot be skipped within the first 5 seconds.
Disruptive Ads - Mid-roll

Image Source: The Coalition for Better Ads

  • Mid-roll ads: Ads of any length which appear in the middle of a video.
Disruptive Ads - Image or Text

Source: The Coalition for Better Ads

  • Image or text ads: Ads that appear on top of a playing video and are in the middle ⅓ of the video player window or cover more than 20 percent of the content.

To be clear, these issues only apply to videos that are less than 8 minutes long. Longer videos can continue to include pre-roll or mid-roll ads without being affected.

For now, both Google and the Coalition for Better Ads are recommending removing any ads in videos which violate these standards within the next four months.

Starting August 5, 2020, Google’s Chrome browser will begin blocking these ads on sites. Sites which repeatedly run problematic ads of this sort can also be blocked from showing ads entirely.

Importantly, Google specifically states these standards will also apply to YouTube ads:

“It’s important to note that YouTube.com, like other websites with video content, will be reviewed for compliance with the Standards. Similar to the previous Better Ads Standards, we’ll update our product plans across our ad platforms, including YouTube, as a result of this standard, and leverage the research as a tool to help guide product development in the future.”

Google has announced it plans to warn users of its Chrome browser about slow sites using a method called “badging”.

The idea is to provide a sign letting users know when a site typically loads slowly before they ever click a link to that site or while the site loads. Google sees this as a way to “reward” fast sites, saying:

“We think the web can do better and want to help users understand when a site may load slowly, while rewarding sites delivering fast experiences.”

For example, Google published one concept for what a slow speed badge could look like while a site is loading:

In this case, it is likely that the badge could increase abandonment rates for slow sites.

The company is also talking about using contextual menus that preview links and would include similar badges indicating a site is fast.

Another idea includes subtly changing the color of loading bars to indicate whether a site is fast:

As the company explained in its announcement:

“Our early explorations will look at a number of Chrome surfaces, including the loading screen (splash screen), loading progress bar and context-menu for links. The latter could enable insight into typical site speeds so you’re aware before you navigate.“

The web browser admits this idea is in the early stages, and may considerably change before they determine “which provides the most value to our users.”

Additionally, the company says they plan to expand the badges to include a number of metrics aside from speed:

“Our long-term goal is to define badging for high-quality experiences, which may include signals beyond just speed.”

Google has announced that it will begin blocking web pages with mixed content in its Chrome web browser starting December of this year. Considering that Chrome is used by more than half of all internet users, this could be a major issue that you may not even know is lurking on your site.

What is Mixed Content?

Mixed content refers to when secure webpages using the HTTPS security protocol include scripts, styles, images, or other content that is delivered through the less secure HTTP protocol.

Even linking to sites still using HTTP can be seen as delivering mixed content on your site.

As Google explains:

“Mixed content degrades the security and user experience of your HTTPS site …Using these resources, an attacker can often take complete control over the page, not just the compromised resource.”

How Google Chrome Will Handle Mixed Content

When the next update for Chrome is released in December, Google will begin doing one of two things when it encounters sites with mixed content:

  1. If an HTTPS version of that resource exists, Google will automatically upgrade that content to the newer secure version.
  2. When no such resource exists, Google will soft block the page. This will include a warning about the security risks of mixed content and an option to access the page despite the risk.

The warning screen may not deter all of your potential customers, but it can disrupt a significant chunk of your traffic, leads, and sales.

Beginning in January of 2020, Google will start taking an even stronger stance by removing the unblock option and completely blocking webpages with insecure content.

How To Check Your Site for Mixed Content

Depending on the size of your site and what platform it is built on, there are a number of free and paid options for scanning your site for mixed content.

JitBit SSL Checker

JitBit SSL Checker is a free online tool that can review up to 400 pages of your site for mixed content.

WordPress Tools

If your site is built on WordPress, you can use the Really Simple SSL Plugin to migrate your content to SSL while also checking for and fixing mixed content.

For those who have already migrated their site to SSL, there is also the SSL Insecure Content Fixer WordPress Plugin. This can scan your site for insecure resources while providing suggestions for fixing these problems.

Tools for Large Sites

Websites with a large number of pages will likely have to use paid tools to check their site. One option is Screaming Frog, which can crawl massive sites and provide insights to a wide variety of issues. One drawback, however, is that while it can pinpoint potential problems on your site, it can not directly assist you in fixing them.

Google has given webmasters their final warning to convert their sites to HTTPS or be branded as “Not Secure” with a prominent message in the browser bar of all Chrome and all Chrome-based browsers after October of this year.

Why is Google doing this?

Google has been urging webmasters to switch their sites to the more secure HTTPS security protocol for years, using increasingly drastic measures. Currently, Google is denoting sites that are secure using a green icon in the browser bar. Since so many sites have now adopted the protocol, Google is taking this a step further with a prominent red warning for sites that are not secure.

What does this mean for you?

Internet users don’t give up their information easily. They have to trust that you won’t let their data be breached or misuse their information. If they see that your site is specifically “Not Secure”, they simply aren’t going to trust you with anything.

That could mean increasing bounce-rates for your website, fewer e-commerce sales, fewer newsletter sign-ups, or fewer internet-driven leads for your business.

Two-Stage Roll Out

Rather than “switching on” the security warnings all at once, Google will be rolling out the change in two steps.

First, Chrome will remove the green icon signifying safe websites from browser bars. In its place, they will temporarily leave the small lock icon in its place.

Then, beginning in October, Google will introduce the official red icon identifying sites that are “Not Secure.”

This latest warning from Google gives webmasters plenty of time to make the switch, but I advise taking action sooner rather than later. You can get started right now with Google’s HTTPS set-up guides here.

If you’re a business investing any amount of your budget into online marketing, there’s a good chance you are running ads on Google. So, it may raise your eyebrows to learn the company operating one of the largest online ad platforms is about to release a new feature that will block ads on Chrome.

Indeed, Google is updating its web browser to block ads by default. However, it appears Chrome’s ad blocker will only filter specific types of ads which are considered “unacceptable” by the Coalition for Better Ads standards.

As the original report about the new feature from The Wall Street Journal explains:

“Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and ‘prestitial’ ads with countdown timers are deemed to be ‘beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability’.”

The news makes it fairly certain that Chrome’s ad blockers will be significantly less aggressive than many third-party options, but it is unclear exactly how it will work. It is possible the site may only block specific offending ads, but the report indicates Google is also considering blocking ads across an entire site if any ads are deemed unacceptable.

In other words, play by Google’s rules or have all your ads on your site blocked.

Many consider the news that Google is preparing an ad blocker to be a surprise, but there is a reasonable argument for the decision. The rise of ad blocker usage isn’t going away, with many citing malicious, aggressive, or annoying ads as their primary reason for using a third-party blocker.

By taking a proactive action to block offending ads by default, the company may be able to pull some users back from blocking all ads entirely. That means the typical ads across their platform would continue getting shown and generating revenue instead of being removed by a third-party app.

There are a lot of questions about how exactly the ad blocker will function, but the WSJ says you can expect to learn more about the feature “within weeks.”

Google HTTPS Warning

Google is making some changes to protect users’ sensitive information online, and it could lead to your site being marked as non-secure by Google’s web browser at the end of this month.

Google released a warning that as of the end of January 2017, Chrome will mark sites without HTTPS as non-secure if they collect private information like passwords or credit cards.

Google #NoHacked HTTPS

“Enabling HTTPS on your whole site is important, but if your site collects passwords, payment info, or any other personal information, it’s critical to use HTTPS.”

The company has encouraged implementing HTTPS in the past by making it a (very minor) search ranking signal. Now, from the sound of the alert, the company says an entire site will need to be HTTPS if any pages collect payment or sensitive information.

Switching over to HTTPS is an easy process, but you should begin preparing to make the switch now if your site fits the criteria. Otherwise, you are likely to be flagged as non-secure in February and lose a large amount of your web traffic.

With the constant stream of information coming out of the online marketing industry, it can be hard to keep up with all the latest updates without missing some important news. That’s why we compile all the biggest stories you may have missed this week all in one convenient place every Friday. This week was short on big announcements from most of the major platforms (aside from Panda 4.0), but there are still plenty of small updates you might not have heard yet.

Facebook Gives Restaurants Easy Way To Display Menus

Facebook

Restaurants who are taking advantage of their Facebook profiles may have noticed a new feature yesterday, which will make it easier than ever to make their menus available to the general public. Facebook pages associated with restaurants can now upload PDF versions of their menus and display them directly in their page tabs. The feature is available worldwide within page settings.

Facebook Introduces New Default Privacy Settings and Privacy Checkup Tool

Facebook Security

Yesterday, Facebook announced some changes to their privacy systems that are intended to raise the ease of controlling how secretive you are with what you share to their site. The most notable change is that posts are now set to only be shown to friends for new users. Previously, the default setting was Public.

Facebook is also working on rolling out a new and improved privacy checkup tool for users over the next few weeks. The tool will walk users through a series of steps to review their privacy settings ranging from who can see their posts to what apps they’ve given permissions to.

Facebook has been making efforts to improve the privacy and security of users in the past few months, including introducing Anonymous Login and making it easier for smartphone users to see which audience they are sharing with.

Google Brings Okay Google Voice Detection To Chrome on Desktops

okaygoogtest2

Google announced via Google+ that Chrome, the popular web browser made by Google, that they have added the crowd-pleasing ability to say “Okay Google” to activate voice search by default from the Google search page. To set up the ability, you may have to click n advanced settings and check off “Enable ‘Ok Google’ to start a voice search.”

DuckDuckGo Relaunches With a New Look

duckduckgo-autosuggest

DuckDuckGo made its name as the search engine for those want user privacy in the wake of the NSA scandal that broke open last year, but it always suffered from a rough layout that didn’t favor public usage. All that has changed as the engine relaunched earlier this week with a new look and feel, as well as tons of other new features like maps, local search, and image search.

The new layout resembles a traditional search engine much more, while still championing users privacy, and improving on existing features while they’re at it.

DuckDuckGo is using OpenStreetMap for its map system.

duckduckgo-maps-localsearch

Image search results are shown in a carousel-style presentation by default, but you can also switch to a more familiar full-screen grid with the click of a mouse.

 duckduckgo-imagesearch

Source: Flickr

Browser plug-ins can be a huge help or a major hassle, depending on what is installed. Many of us still have nightmares about asking to use a friend’s computer, only finding Internet Explorer, and opening the program to see toolbars and add-ons clogging up half of the window space.

With time (and better browsers) however, many browser extensions have risen that actually help improve productivity. Google Chrome, for example, has tons of great free extensions in the Chrome Web Store, and Awwwards.com has cherry-picked some of the best for designers and developers.

One extension seems almost magical for us designers who have seen a fantastic font online, and then spent hours looking through collections of typefaces trying to find the closest match. WhatFont quickly inspects fonts on webpages just by hovering over them, no fuss or hassle.

Resolution Test, on the other hand, is an extension that allows developers to test web pages in different screen resolutions, simulating testing on various devices.

Some plug-ins aren’t meant to replace tools like the two listed above, but instead are intended to add to other tools. Firebug Lite for Google Chrome isn’t intended to replace Firebug or Chrome Developer Tools. It works together with them to provide rich visual representations developers are used to seeing in Firebug.

Awwwards have twelve more tools many designers and developers will find useful. Everyone loves free tools and resources, and these plug-ins can help streamline your work process without taking up hardly any space on your computer.

When Siri was announced with the iPhone 4S, it didn’t bring about a revolution in search activity on phones. Most still search by typing keywords into Safari or Chrome. However, gradually, Siri and mobile apps are changing search habits and creating new opportunities for search marketers.

The Alchemy Viral crew gives us an infographic which helps cover everything about searching with Siri and mobile searching in general.

There is one error, which Search Engine Land helps point out. The infographic says Siri draws from social services, but Siri can only help users post things to Twitter or Facebook. It can’t help them get information back from those social sites.

With mobile searching poised to overtake desktop within two years, this infographic can be helpful to anyone interested in mobile searching.

Oh, and the creator of the infographic isn’t bad with spelling. They are just British, hence “optimisation,” instead of the American spelling.

Today a court order goes into effect to force Microsoft to allow Windows users a choice in internet browsers.  Previously, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was the default browser installation on Windows.  As of today, that decision is no longer enforced, and users will have a choice to make that many were previously unaware they even had.

One possibility of this outcome is that Google Chrome may now see some increase in use.  Google is doing a heavier push in the mainstream media, so everyday internet users will see the option to install Chrome.  If a lot of them choose this, this will increase Google’s hold over the search engine market, and this will also effect many SEOs in their approach to optimization.

It appears the battle between Google and Microsoft (who’s joined forces with Yahoo) may have only now just begun.  To check out more details on this story, see this article by HighPosition.net.