Google Chrome will block some types of ads in February

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.

Comments closed
    • FakeAlGore
    • 2 years ago

    Prestitial ads with countdowns aren’t okay by Google standards? Then why the hell do I see them on YouTube videos?

      • mudcore
      • 2 years ago

      Good question. As well… does this mean all the news websites that use ad-walls for their content are going to see those ads blocked or? The standards are the site are a joke. They’re unclear and ill defined.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      Well you see, some pigs are more equal than others.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    I have all the mixed feels about this decision. On the one hand, I’m all for limiting ads to those that aren’t super-intrusive. On the other, I’m not sure I want an advertising network to be the one doing it.

      • TheRazorsEdge
      • 2 years ago

      As long as Google’s ads follow the same guidelines, I don’t see a problem with it. There’s a difference between a monopoly and an abusive monopoly.

      The interaction of their browser and advertising units does merit some additional scrutiny now.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        It kind of seems that Google made its own guidelines and now it’s holding the whole internet to those guidelines. Again, I find those ads unobtrusive, but it doesn’t smell good that an advertiser is the one doing it.

    • jihadjoe
    • 2 years ago

    The difference between Chrome doing this vs {your browser here} + {ad blocking plugin} is a LOT of people run default Chrome.

    It puts a lot more pressure on sites to make their ads unobtrusive if they know they will be blocked or even blacklisted by 58% of the internet otherwise.

    • PixelArmy
    • 2 years ago

    So we do like censoring the internet… as long as it’s done by an entity we like against something we hate… got it…

      • TheRazorsEdge
      • 2 years ago

      It’s not censorship though. Google is not policing content.

      Sites can still partner with whatever advertisers they want, and advertisers can still promote whatever products they want. Google is imposing technical limitations on how ads can be displayed.

      Unless you want to argue the point that disruptive ads constitute “art”, there is no censorship here.

        • PixelArmy
        • 2 years ago

        “How” a message is delivered is often an important part of the message. And yes, you can easily make the argument that ads can be art.

      • DrCR
      • 2 years ago

      Except real alternatives to Google exist. If everyone switched to Mozilla and DuckDuckGo, Google would have acted differently.

    • kvndoom
    • 2 years ago

    Stuff like this makes me increasingly furious that Firefox has been in full-retard mode for 5 years.

      • Air
      • 2 years ago

      Could you elaborate please? I was not aware of the full-ratard mode going on.

    • crystall
    • 2 years ago

    Or you could run Firefox with tracking protection always turned on and get rid of Google ads too.

    • mcarson09
    • 2 years ago

    Do you really want to give google more control of your life?

    Yo don’t need google to block ads there are good ad blockers that are community run.

    • Shobai
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Android dewvices, [/quote<] Third last paragraph

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 2 years ago

      Is there an Elmer Fudd “Andwoid” joke in there somewhere?

        • Shobai
        • 2 years ago

        I did consider trying to make one fit… next time, Gadget!

    • mudcore
    • 2 years ago

    Oh look suddenly all the companies who haven’t partnered with Google no longer get ad space in Chrome.

      • DancinJack
      • 2 years ago

      That’s not even true. Just don’t make crappy ads and they won’t get blocked. Shocking, I know.

        • mudcore
        • 2 years ago

        It’s a joke based on an unlikely but also possible abuse of what could otherwise be a beneficial feature. You shouldn’t take it so hard.

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    I’ve cracked their top-secret algorithm!

    Step 1: Identify if ad is from Amazon.
    Step 2: If yes to step 1: KILL IT WITH FIRE.
    Step 3: Do Step 1 and Step 2 part of the time based on a PRNG output for Apple ads too.

      • maxxcool
      • 2 years ago

      Yeah … eventually this will lead to some sort of AT filing …

      But it will be interesting since it IS their browser and sorta their property and IP ? .. dunno this seems slippery up here.

        • Ummagumma
        • 2 years ago

        I could not justify an anti-trust filing, assuming your term “AT” means “anti-trust”.

        Why?

        There are other browsers on the market other than Chrome that a person can use.

          • strangerguy
          • 2 years ago

          Google: “Here’s a small bone for your Chrome, but hey I hoped you like seeing that trailer for that shitty FFXV mobile game for the #423424 time and NSFW ads in your free app because we surely are not going to do anything about that, cheers!”

          P.S please don’t anti-trust us either, our >80% market share doesn’t matter because OPEN-SOURCE OS (that is worthless without our bundled Gapps)

          • tacitust
          • 2 years ago

          That’s not always enough. Chrome is far and away the market leader in browsers these days, and users likely won’t even know when ads are being blocked (or will simply take Google’s word that they would be intrusive).

          The plaintiffs in any case involving this technology would the ad makers, the ad networks, and the hosting websites, none of whom has the power to force users to switch to a different browser.

          Google adding infoboxes at the top of their search results is a similar case. Many users like the additional information, since it often presents them with the answer they’re looking for, but some popular specialty single-subjects sites that depended on traffic from Google search results for most of their views and revenue saw their traffic drop by as much as 90% overnight.

          Just as with this case, telling users “there are other browsers” doesn’t cut it as a solution to countering potentially antitrust activity, since why would they want to switch? They’re not the ones being driven out of business.

          Now, I don’t know that what Google is doing with the ads is enough to warrant antitrust action — it very much depends on what they do — but “if you don’t like it, switch browsers” is not a valid rebuttal.

            • Bobs_Your_Uncle
            • 2 years ago

            Not completely On Topic, but somewhat tangential with implications that could become VERY problematic given the FCC’s stated intention of abandoning BOTH Net Neutrality AND its own statutorily mandated regulatory role …

            I picked up a Roku device that was promoting a full month of free DirecTV NOW streaming services*. Registration for DirecTV NOW is a strictly online process (involving an emailed authorization code) & cannot be completed through the Roku.

            DirecTV NOW supports exactly 2 browsers: 1.) Chrome 2.) Safari

            Since I’m running Win10 … and despite the fact I really have no intention of streaming DirecTV on PC … I HAD to install Chrome to take advantage of the promo offer!

            Roku may be completely un-involved in forcing this “AT&T/Google service provider lock-in”, or they may be a full partner.** In any event, I find the existence of such exclusivity in provider agreements troubling, given the restriction to either Chrome or Safari was not disclosed upfront. This offering dictates a 3rd service partner participant, and is unlike a more typical 2-party service offering; ie. “subscribe to T-Mobile/get NetFlix for free” etc.

            And yes, I realize that I was fully free to reject the promotion. I’m responsible for my knowing acceptance of the promo.

            This is a relatively modest, perhaps even inconsequential promotion. None-the-less, I don’t welcome a future wherein corporations collude to develop exclusive offerings with full terms undisclosed to consumers from the start.

            * My Roku purchase decision was was not influenced by the DirecTV promo. The promo was simply a ladle of gravy added to what was a foregone purchase decision.

            ** Depending upon how this “3-party” service offering was developed and arrived at. Without full knowledge of how this offering was structured from the outset, it’s conceivable that Roku was 1.) not a party to the AT&T/Google exclusivity; 2.) knowingly accepted conditions set by AT&T, or by AT&T in conjunction with Google 3.) was a full participant from the outset.

            • DoomGuy64
            • 2 years ago

            Actually, I think not only is it valid, but quite possibly should be the preferred suggestion for PC users.

            Chrome is not the default Windows browser, Edge is. Therefore, nobody should be recommending Chrome on the desktop, especially when google can persuade users easily enough on it’s own. Everybody not in google’s pockets, including websites, should be suggesting alternatives like Vivaldi or Firefox, or at least helping people be aware of their existence.

            Considering that Firefox was previously the go-to browser before Chrome without google or microsoft’s install methods, which was mostly due to people actually switching and being recommended to switch, I say it is possible for that option again. It just requires community intervention, like before.

            The only problem I see today, is that we have been caught up in petty browser war benchmarking, which is pointless with today’s massively OP PCs, even for retail, and too many people have gotten obsessed with that over business ethics. I even question whether or not browser benchmarks have been stealth marketing. A quad core with 8gb of ram won’t have issues running any browser, so just recommend the more ethical browser. At least that way there will still be competition keeping google in check.

          • Ninjitsu
          • 2 years ago

          It obviously means “anti-tank”

            • maxxcool
            • 2 years ago

            LOL.

          • maxxcool
          • 2 years ago

          Oh I agree.. the phrasing ”some sort” <> true antitrust filing. It is ‘Their’ browser.. but again EU forces MS to sell versions of windows without media player and a browser every day despite options.

          So I do expect SOME sort of legal shenanigans .. but … no idea what will fall out of the tree.

      • DoomGuy64
      • 2 years ago

      Maybe now people will start to realize using an internet titan’s custom browser isn’t to improve your web experience, but their web experience. Not saying google can’t do what it wants with it’s own browser, just that people need to think before installing software.

      Play it safe, use neutral, anti-spyware, and consumer friendly programs. The only real issue is that those are getting hard to come by, especially since the general public would rather use the bad actors, and ignore backsliding by the “good” guys.

      edit:
      Also, as long as google doesn’t take this too far, blocking some of the worst ads on the internet by default is a good thing, and should generally improve browsing for everyone.

        • tacitust
        • 2 years ago

        I think this will lead to a lot more sites will require you to whitelist them before they give you access. At the moment, they are few enough that they risk driving viewers away since there are still plenty of alternatives that don’t require whitelisting, but that may change, if the Google ad blocker is effective enough.

        Still a win, though, in the sense that the remaining ads will be less intrusive than before.

        • maxxcool
        • 2 years ago

        +1, I don’t use my phone to look up anything sensitive or anything i would not my co-workers or family to see. my browsing history while still profitable (movie review, music choice, maps) is quite boring.

        but we are talking google… “don’t be Evil” expired some time ago.

        • Wirko
        • 2 years ago

        The answer to “Maybe now people will start to realize” has so far been NO.

      • mcarson09
      • 2 years ago

      You made a good joke +1 for you!

    • DancinJack
    • 2 years ago

    While I’m sure there are issues with what they’re doing here, this is ultimately a good thing. Ad people need to be less lazy and design good ads that don’t trash the experience of a site or bog down your CPU and RAM with unnecessary crap. Hopefully this will help them move in that direction.

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