Advertising Platforms
4 mins read

Google Chrome’s built-in ad blocker rolls out globally (and there’s a new one in the works)

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Chrome has begun filtering ads on sites globally that repeatedly violate industry standards and continue to show intrusive, annoying ads to people that visit their websites. This is being done using Chrome’s built-in ad blocker, which was earlier rolled out for limited testing in North America and Europe.  

“We follow the Better Ads Standards when determining which websites to filter ads on in Chrome,” said Ben Galbraith, Senior Director of Product, Chrome. “These standards were developed by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group dedicated to improving the web advertising experience, based on feedback from over 66,000 consumers around the world.”

This feedback has shown that a big source of frustration is annoying ads: video ads that play at full blast or giant pop-ups where you can’t seem to find the exit icon. These ads are designed to be disruptive and often stand in the way of people using their browsers for their intended purpose—connecting them to content and information. It’s clear that annoying ads degrade what we all love about the web.

Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, VP, Product Management at Google

“Our own advertising platforms have stopped selling the kinds of ads that violate these standards and generate complaints from Chrome users,” Google confirmed on their Chromium blog. The Standards identified 12 experiences that users find intrusive and that advertisers, publishers, and technology vendors should avoid showing.

Image Source: Coalition for Better Ads

Next steps for publishers

Google says that if you operate a website that shows ads, you should consider reviewing your site status in the Ad Experience Report, a tool that helps publishers to understand if Chrome has identified any violating ad experiences on your site.

The Ad Experience Report is designed to identify ad experiences that violate the Better Ads Standards, a set of ad experiences the industry has identified as being highly annoying to users. Publishers can use this tool to understand if they have intrusive ad experiences on their site, their current status (passing / no issues found or failing), and resolve outstanding issues or contest a review.

A quick overview of the Ad Experience Report

Chrome will automatically block intrusive ads on sites that have been found to violate the Better Ads Standards, but users have the option to disable the feature by selecting “allow ads on this site.”

Image Source: Chromium blog

How will this impact publishers?

Google underscores that the majority of publishers are currently compliant with the standards and will not be adversely affected. “Two thirds of all publishers who were at one time non-compliant to the Better Ads Standards are now in good standing. Further, out of millions of sites we’ve reviewed to date, less than 1% have had their ads filtered.”

Augustine Fou, a cybersecurity and ad fraud researcher who advises companies about online marketing, told The Register that Google’s broader enforcement of ad rules may impact on providers of video, pop-up/pop-under, and other poorly optimized ads.

“In my mind, the more important opportunity here is to filter out malvertising (ads laced with malware) and drive-by crypto-mining ads, and other unwanted security risks that come in through the ad slots,” he said. 

Overall, I think it is a good thing for users even though it may be criticized by competitors as Google shifting the playing field to its own advantage yet again.

Augustine Fou, Cybersecurity and ad fraud researcher

“If left unchecked, disruptive ads have the potential to derail the entire system,” said Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, VP of Product Management at Google. “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.

“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.”

A new blocker for “heavy ads”?

While Chrome’s built-in ad blocker is already present on desktops and smartphones, it seems the tech giant could be expanding on this effort with a new blocker that targets ads that use too much network or CPU. 

Google calls these “heavy ads” and a work-in-progress Chromium commit shares some specifics on what it takes to trigger this blocker, like unloading heavy ads that use up .1% of bandwidth usage, .1% of CPU usage per minute, and .1% of overall CPU time.

“Where Chrome’s existing ad blocker eliminates the ads for an entire page, the new “heavy ad” blocker specifically only handles the problem ad,” says Kyle Bradshaw at 9to5Google. “Heavy ads are replaced in the page with a notice of the removal and a “Details” button you can click to learn more.”

Image Source: 9to5Google

“The industry fails terribly at creativity if we can’t even start from the place that ad formats aren’t intrinsically annoying,” said Joe Barone, Managing Partner, Brand Safety, of GroupM, the world’s largest media investment group. 

“We look forward to working with our media partners and clients to encourage global adoption of the standards. The premise is simple, what’s right for consumers is always the right answer for the advertiser.”

“Chrome’s enforcement of the Coalition’s standards has inspired many website owners to improve the advertising experience on their sites in a way that benefits users,” noted Ben Galbraith, Senior Director of Product, Chrome. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the industry to create a better, more vibrant web ecosystem with only the best user experiences.”