Google is enabling its built-in ad blocker for Chrome tomorrow (February 15th). Chrome’s ad filtering is designed to weed out some of the web’s most annoying ads, and push website owners to stop using them. Google is not planning to wipe out all ads from Chrome, but it will be blocking all ads on sites that repeatedly violate standards set forth by the Coalition for Better Ads. Full page ads, ads with autoplaying sound and video, and flashing ads will be targeted by Chrome’s ad filtering, which will hopefully result in less of these annoying ads on the web by incentivizing sites to stop relying on them.
Google is revealing today exactly what ads will be blocked, and how the company notifies site owners before a block is put in place. On desktop, Google is planning to block pop-up ads, large sticky ads, auto-play video ads with sound, and ads that appear on a site with a countdown blocking you before the content loads. Google is being more aggressive about its mobile ad blocking, filtering out pop-up ads, ads that are displayed before content loads (with or without a countdown), auto-play video ads with sound, large sticky ads, flashing animated ads, fullscreen scroll over ads, and ads that are particularly dense.
“The majority of problematic ad experiences are controlled by the site owner,” explains Chris Bentzel, Chrome engineering manager. As a result, Google is taking a three-step process to tackling these bad ads by evaluating sites, informing sites of issues, and then allowing sites to correct problems before a block is enforced.
Google is evaluating sites based on the Better Ads standards and then rating them as a pass, warning, or failing. Site owners can access these evaluations using an API, and sites can be re-reviewed after bad ads have been addressed. If a site has been found to have a high number of violations and the owner ignores Google’s notification of these violations then Chrome will start blocking ads on the site after 30 days.
The ad blocker itself will show up in Chrome’s address bar on the desktop (similar to a pop-up blocker icon), and on mobile a small prompt at the bottom of the screen will show that ads are blocked on a site. Both desktop and mobile users will have the option to allow ads on a site that’s automatically blocked. Google says that the aim of the ad blocker is to improve web ads, and that 42 percent of sites that were failing the Better Ads standards have resolved their issues already.
Once ads are blocked in Chrome they’ll be filtered at the network level to prevent them from loading at all. Chrome will check a site against known ad-related URL patterns from the EasyList filter, blocking the request if there’s a match. Google’s Chrome ad blocking will likely face criticism from advertisers and publishers, but if it achieves its goal of improving web ad standards then it’ll be a good thing for the entire industry.
Update at 5:50PM ET, 2/14: Clarified that Google will block all ads on websites that violate the Better Ads standards, not just ads that violate the standards. In other words, blocking will occur on a site-by-site basis, and not simply based on certain ad types.