We reported on rumors of future baked-in ad-blocking in Google's popular Chrome web browser back in April. We spilled words on the subject again in June when the search giant confirmed its plans to block ads on pages that didn't conform to guidelines for unobtrusive advertising. The company has now announced that its browser software will start blocking nonconforming ads on February 15. One can probably guess many of the types of ads that won't meet the guidelines: full-page interstitial ads, ads that play sound unexpectedly, and pop-ups, among others.
Violations of the standards can be reported using Google's Ad Experience Report tool. Beginning the day after Valentine's Day, sites sporting ads that don't meet the Coalition for Better Ads' standards for 30 days will have all ads blocked in Chrome. Site owners can then submit their sites for a review after any violating ads have been removed. The February 15 start date for ad-blocking suggests that the feature could release by some mechanism other than a full Chrome version change. Google plans to replace Chrome 63 with version 64 on January 23 and to release version 65 on March 6.
According to VentureBeat, a single violating ad won't be enough to get a website blacklisted. Google's Ad Experience program will allow the appearance of a non-compliant ad in 7.5% of all pages served by a site in the first two months after February 15. In the four months after the initial period, that figure drops to 5% before landing at a permanent 2.5% in mid-August 2018.
The addition of a new form of ad-blocking software isn't big news on the desktop browser front, where ad-blocking plug-ins of one type or another have been commonplace for well over a decade. The change could have quite an impact on sites whose users primarily come from Android devices, however, because mobile Chrome has long lacked support for plug-ins or extensions.
Google hopes that the inclusion of a feature that blots out intrusive ads will decrease the chances that users will install less-tolerant ad-blocking software, but the company's motivations are hardly disinterested. We've already said our piece about the potential conflicts of interest that Google could raise with its own ad-blocking tool and the potential turn to "native advertising" or other forms of revenue that a restriction on the types of ad units a site can sell against its content could engender.
For just one example, we've already begun to see a rise in the proliferation of websites that mine cryptocurrency in the background, and we suspect that removing certain advertisers as potential revenue sources could cause more sites to resort to using browsers' CPU cycles in a quest to replace lost income. Perhaps Chrome will have to include some kind of protection against CPU mining in future versions. For our part, The Tech Report will continue to run the same kinds of user-friendly ads we always have. Do us a favor and help us continue that mission by white-listing us in your ad blocker.