Google has just confirmed that a version of Chrome with built-in ad-blocking features is in the works, and the company hopes to release it in "early 2018."
Rumors about this started in mid-April and were officially confirmed on Friday by Sridar Ramaswamy, Google's Senior Vice President for Ads & Commerce.
According to the Google exec, the company plans to add ad-blocking features to Chrome, but not in the way you think. Google is not adding an ad blocker per-se but intends to block only misbehaving ads.
By misbehaving ads, the company understands ads that do not comply with the "Better Ads Standards" announced over the winter by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group dedicated to improving the state of online ads.
The Better Ads Standards is a guide of dos and don'ts for website owners. Google intends to configure Chrome to load only ads that comply with the standard, while ads that break its rules won't be displayed in Chrome at all.
By taking this approach — different from what current ad blocker plugins provide — Google is moving the blame of intrusive ads on website owners, not the ad networks that deliver the ads.
Taking this route, Google will ensure that ad blockers don't suffocate the lifeline of online companies that rely on ads to make a living.
Sites that respect their users can rest assure Chrome won't block their ads, while money-hungry webmasters that use all sorts of sneaky tactics will have to adapt or see smaller ad revenues.
To show its dedication to this new approach towards ad blocking, Google said Chrome would block even Google's own ads if the website where they're loaded don't follow industry standards.
Chrome currently holds a market share of above 50%, meaning that a change like this won't go unnoticed. Browsers like Brave or Opera come with built-in ad blocker technologies, albeit they're not enabled by default. It is unknown if Chrome's ad-blocking feature will be enabled by default or user opt-in.
To better understand what kind of ads Chrome will stop showing starting with 2018, below are what the Better Ads Standards considers intrusive ads.
Pop-up ads are a type of interstitial ad that do exactly what they say — pop up and block the main content of the page. They appear after content on the page begins to load and are among the most commonly cited annoyances for visitors to a website. Pop-up ads come in many varieties – they can take up part of the screen, or the entire screen.
Auto-playing video ads play sound without any user interaction. These experiences are especially disruptive to users, as they catch the readers off guard, and often compel them to quickly close the window or tab in order to stop the sound. Ads that require a click to activate sound did not fall beneath the initial Better Ads Standard.
Prestitial “Countdown” ads appear before the content of the page has loaded, forcing the user to wait a number of seconds before they can dismiss the ad, or the ad closes on its own. These ads can disrupt users in a way that dissuades them from waiting for the countdown to finish and continuing onto their content. In desktop environments, prestitial ads that can be dismissed immediately did not fall beneath the initial Better Ads Standard for desktop.
Large Sticky Ads stick to the edge of a page, regardless of a user’s efforts to scroll. As the user browses the page, this static, immobile sticky ad takes up more than 30% of the screen’s real estate. A Large Sticky Ad has an impeding effect by continuing to obstruct a portion of the page view regardless of where the user moves on the page.
Pop-up ads are a type of interstitial ads that do exactly what they say — pop up and block the main content of the page. They appear after content on the page begins to load and are among the most commonly cited annoyances for visitors to a website. Pop-up ads come in many varieties – they can take up part of the screen, or the entire screen.
Mobile prestitial ads appear on a mobile page before content has loaded, blocking the user from continuing on to the content they have sought out. These pop-ups vary in size from full-screen to part of the screen. They may also appear as a standalone page that prevents users from getting to the main content.
When ads on a mobile page take up more than 30% of the vertical height of the main content portion of the page, the result is a disruptive ad experience, regardless of whether these ads are text, video, or static images. This includes “sticky” ads and in-line ads. This kind of density makes it very difficult to focus on text content on a mobile device, and can lead to frustrated users.
Ads that animate and “flash” with rapidly changing background and colors are highly aggravating for consumers, and serve to create a severe distraction for them as they attempt to read the content on a given page.
Auto-playing video ads with sound automatically play with sound, without any user interaction. This ad experience is especially disruptive because it catches the reader off guard and often compels them to quickly close the window or tab in order to stop the sound — especially if they are on their mobile device and in a public place, where such noise can be a public nuisance and personal embarrassment.
Postitial ads with countdown timers appear after the user follows a link. These ads force the user to wait a number of seconds before they can dismiss the ad, or for the ad to close or redirect them to another page. These ads frustrate users by breaking the flow of content in a manner that can prove distracting — if a user is trying to navigate from one page to another, only to be delayed by this ad, they might abandon the page entirely. Postitial ads with countdowns that can be dismissed immediately did not fall beneath the initial Better Ads Standard.
Full-Screen Scrollover ads force a user to scroll through an ad that appears on top of content. These ads take up more than 30% of the page and float on top of the page’s main content, obstructing it from view. The result can be disorienting for users, as it obscures the content a consumer is attempting to browse. These are different from similar ads that scroll in-line with the content and more smoothly scroll out of sight.
Large Sticky Ads stick to a side of a mobile page, regardless of a user’s efforts to scroll. As the user browses the page, this static, immobile sticky ad takes up more than 30% of the screen’s real estate. A Large Sticky Ad has an impeding effect by continuing to obstruct a portion of the mobile page view regardless of where the user moves on the page. A Large Sticky Ad’s positioning disrupts and obscures a page’s main content — unavoidably leading to a negative user experience.
Image credits: Coalition for Better Ads