What you need to know about the new ad-blocker from Google Chrome

15 Feb 2018

Google Chrome on mobile. Image: napatsorn aungsirichinda/Shutterstock

A new ad-blocker for Google Chrome will be flagging content that fails to meet standards.

Intrusive online advertising is a major bugbear for internet users, many of which choose to install a third-party ad-blocker to reduce clutter on their browsers, while whitelisting sites they wish to support.

Google Chrome is one such browser that has an array of third-party ad-blocking extensions, but today (15 February), the team behind Chrome itself is launching its own third-party ad-blocker.

Google Chrome ad filtering

Of course, Google’s major source of income is derived from online advertising, so the new blocker doesn’t block every single ad.

It instead concentrates on the ones we as users find the most intrusive or disruptive to our browsing experience, such as videos that play at maximum volume, or awkward, massive pop-ups. Flashing animated ads, ads that use sticky panels and prestitial ads (ads that appear before any content on a page has loaded) will also be on the hit list.

As Google is a member of the Coalition for Better Ads, content that doesn’t meet the guidelines laid out by the organisation will be blocked by the new Chrome ad-blocker. As of today, Chrome will remove all ads from websites that fail the Ad Experience Report vetting system. Other review statuses that a website could receive include: not reviewed, passing, warning and review pending.

Sites with a ‘failing’ status will be subject to ad filtering, which will come into effect 30 days after the date Google sends an email to webmasters. Mobile and desktop failures are targeted separately.

Finding a balance

“We’ve already seen more and more people express their discontent with annoying ads by installing ad-blockers, but blocking all ads can hurt sites or advertisers who aren’t doing anything disruptive,” said Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, vice-president of Chrome.

“By focusing on filtering out disruptive ad experiences, we can help keep the entire ecosystem of the web healthy and give people a significantly better user experience than they have today.”

Western Europe and North America are the regions that the Coalition for Better Ads focuses on, so these areas will see the ad filtering go live first. Rather than looking at where the individual user is viewing the site, though, Chrome will look at the location of the majority of site visitors instead.

Sites have already made adjustments

According to Ryan Schoen, product manager for web platform work at Chrome, around 42pc of sites that were warned have made changes to meet standards, including the LA Times and Forbes.

“We want the web to be a place where businesses can thrive and make revenue, but also a place where users can have a good experience,” Schoen said.

While some people see the move as a positive, critics noted that the Coalition for Better Ads standard that Chrome uses is built around Google’s own data, as was reported by AdAge. Many are worried this could give an already powerful company even more control over the overall internet experience.

Google engineering manager, Chris Bentzel, maintained that the company’s goal was not to filter any ads at all, rather, to give website owners the chance to change their advertising policies on their own.

Google Chrome on mobile. Image: napatsorn aungsirichinda/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects