It appears that a new Google search feature has been enabled for a limited number of locations (English-based Google properties), a feature that will undoubtedly affect sites employing roadblock ads upon user entrance.
The new ‘skip intro’ feature provided next to the site titles allows users to reach the desired page without having to wait for animations to load or having to click themselves the ‘skip intro’ link. Not only will this help skipping the very annoying fancy-schmancy Flash presentations you’re bound to bump into when visiting certain sites, but it can also help you skip roadblock ads even before you get to see them. Sure, you could have skipped the ad yourself if you wanted to, but Google now offers a more rapid, direct approach to doing so.
How will this affect the advertisers and publishers?
I’ve already heard many voices moaning about what a hit this is for anyone who employs roadblock ads, and how Google should stop messing with other people’s businesses. While I wholeheartedly agree to the last part, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Sure, the ‘skip intro’ option can potentially be a big hit into the impressions volumes, as the user can skip the ad without even having it loaded in the browser. On the other hand, those who do not avail of the feature are probably more receptive to advertising and closer to an ideal audience, leading to higher CTRs and conversions for the advertisers.
Ultimately, this could translate into more value for advertisers employing roadblocks, even if it may be more difficult to achieve the impressions delivery goals.
If you want to see how the feature appears on the search results pages, check out Phillip’s entry Google Blogoscoped here.