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Google reportedly adding its own ad-block to Chrome

Google reportedly adding its own ad-block to Chrome

Google is reportedly looking to add native ad-blocking capabilities to Chrome, in an apparent effort to save its own adverts from more zealous third-party tools.

Google, a company which makes its vast profits almost solely through advertising, is reportedly working to add an advertising blocker to its popular Chrome browser, seemingly in an effort to discourage the use of third-party tools which block its own ads.

Ad-blocking is undeniably popular. While the majority of websites - including this one - rely solely on advertising revenue to stay afloat, years of marketeers' bad practice have soured users on the concept. From video adverts which automatically play as soon as the page has loaded and increasingly obnoxious pop-up, pop-under, and interstitial ads to the less mainstream fake system warning messages, users are growing tired and increasingly turning to technological means of escape - to say nothing of the dangers of malicious code injected into advertising networks.

With the overwhelming majority of Google's income coming from advertising, ad-blocking is a problem for the company. Rather than turning to the ad-blocker-blocker technology which leads only to ad-blocker-blocker-blocker add-ons and so forth, the company is reportedly working on native ad-blocking for its Google Chrome browser - a move which, cleverly, would give the company some control over precisely what adverts will be blocked and where.

The Wall Street Journal cites anonymous 'people familiar with the company's plans' as its source on the scoop, stating that Google's plan is to 'filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web.' These adverts would be defined, the sources claim, by the Coalition for Better Ads - and Google's own would, naturally, be on the right side of the rules and therefore exempt from filtration.

While Chrome wouldn't be the first browser to receive native ad-blocking capabilities - various browsers have launched with that specific feature at the forefront, while Opera added ad-blocking in April 2016 and extended it to its mobile version in June that year - it's a move Google will need to make very carefully. The company has already paid out impressive fines for anti-competitive behaviour, and modifying one of the world's most popular web browsers to block competitors' adverts while whitelisting its own is unlikely to go down well with regulators.

Google has not publicly commented on its plans for Chrome.

22 Comments

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MLyons@BOXFX 21st April 2017, 09:27 Quote
Although this could be anti-competitive , I do believe this could help if only intrusive ads are blocked. Just depends on google implementation of it.
jb0 21st April 2017, 09:28 Quote
This is, hypothetically, not a bad idea. The problem is, of course, that an advertising company developing an ad-blocker is a fundamental conflict of interest.
Basically the same problem AdBlock Plus had. The whitelist was a good idea, and one I heartily endorsed(and used myself). But asking companies to pay for a spot on the whitelist was a TERRIBLE idea, one which
immediately sows distrust and suspicion even if the entire thing is handled in a fair and impartial manner.


Now, to be fair, whitelisting Google ads is probably reasonable. They have historically been rather good about being inoffensive. But it is very tempting for Google to hold others to different standards than they hold themselves, and bundling their biased adblocker into their popular browser is a powerful combination. Especially if it makes it into their Android browser, where limited screen space, a proliferation of full-screen ads, and limited battery life makes it an even more desirable feature... one that Google has intentionally prevented anyone else from implementing.
proxess 21st April 2017, 09:53 Quote
Not to mention Google occasionally changes their mind about what is and isn't obtrusive. While a competitor may be complying today to Googles' standards, they might not be tomorrow because Google suddenly decided that's not how they do ads anymore.
MLyons@BOXFX 21st April 2017, 09:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
Not to mention Google occasionally changes their mind about what is and isn't obtrusive. While a competitor may be complying today to Googles' standards, they might not be tomorrow because Google suddenly decided that's not how they do ads anymore.

You would think they would add some sort of delay before implementing any new rules they come up with. Surely not being intrusive isn't that tricky. Does it change my browsing experience? no? it's not intrusive.
Parge 21st April 2017, 10:09 Quote
I am literally incredulous.

As someone who works in the digital advertising industry, of whom Google and Facebook already have a stranglehold on, this would pretty much kill all other competition.

Over the last year the industry has come together to combat Google, who's Ad Server which is used by most publishers (websites) and gives a first look to Google for every bid request (impression/user turning up on a page), and created a product called Header Bidding which is a far more open form of deciding who wins the bid. Not only are google doing their best to now kill that (with Dynamic Allocation through DFP) but they are now basically attempting to wipe out all competitors with a built in ad blocker.

Make no mistake, this isn't about preventing 'bad ads' (pop ups, autoplay videos etc) - my company, and almost all of our competitors in the West (and many in the East) don't even work with publishers who support that kind of inventory. This is about Google leveraging their position as a browser developer, to mop up the tiny % of advertising revenue they don't already own, leaving no competition in their wake.

Let me guess, the next step is selling their solution that gets around the block?
Maki role 21st April 2017, 11:11 Quote
I'm surprised this is legal TBH. I mean usually google ads are pretty decent and unobtrusive (bar some of the YouTube ones) but it seems shady to just block all competitors.

I would have figured if they wanted to develop an Adblock, it would have to include their ads too? Otherwise it seems like straight up anti-competitive behaviour.
edzieba 21st April 2017, 11:37 Quote
My heart weeps for Ad Networks. No, wait, the other thing. An ad network inevitable boils down to "put a hole in your webpage where we can insert arbitrary elements including scripting", which is just a bad idea in principle. Native (i.e. from the same host as the rest of the page) image-only ads are the way to go. The barrier is moving from a 'pay per click' model that requires tracking and targeting, to a 'pay per site' model that targets userbases in aggregate. Great for specific-purpose sites like Bit-tech, not so good for "I have a random webpage, I want adverts because it's free money!".
Anfield 21st April 2017, 11:56 Quote
Legal action over anti-competitive nature of it in 3...2...
perplekks45 21st April 2017, 12:30 Quote
Smart move...

And, thanks, but no thanks. If it doesn't disable the intrusive and annoying ads on YouTube, which most likely it won't, I will not use it. I recently opened a YT link on someone else's computer... not cool.
MLyons@BOXFX 21st April 2017, 13:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
Smart move...

And, thanks, but no thanks. If it doesn't disable the intrusive and annoying ads on YouTube, which most likely it won't, I will not use it. I recently opened a YT link on someone else's computer... not cool.

What makes YouTube ads intrusive?
Maki role 21st April 2017, 13:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLyons@BOXFX

What makes YouTube ads intrusive?

Whilst I wouldn't call youtube's ones intrusive, they rank up there as bloody annoying for me. Having to wait 30 seconds to watch a video only 20 seconds long?? Yeah no thanks, luckily they're sorted out by existing blockers.
GeorgeK 21st April 2017, 13:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anfield
Legal action over anti-competitive nature of it in 3...2...

Genuine question: Can it be classed as anti-competative as users aren't forced to use Chrome?
MLyons@BOXFX 21st April 2017, 14:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeK
Genuine question: Can it be classed as anti-competative as users aren't forced to use Chrome?

I think it depends on market share.
Anfield 21st April 2017, 16:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeK
Genuine question: Can it be classed as anti-competative as users aren't forced to use Chrome?

I'd reckon the problem is more with treating their goliath of an ad network different from all the david ad networks rather than how many people use Chrome.

Plus the timing of it is also suspicious at best, in recent weeks there has been tons of controversy over where google places ads and several large companies have threatened to move away from google over it and now google suddenly resorts to this to harm competing ad networks?
Cheapskate 21st April 2017, 17:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLyons@BOXFX
What makes YouTube ads intrusive?

I take it you've never used 'tube for listening to an ambient album, only to have it interrupted frequently by a 8 minute long ad for Brazilian hop-hop. Nothing quite kills your calm like having to rush the computer to stop the YO!YO!YO!

I think they added scripting that knows when you aren't at the computer and deliberately picks something speaker-breaking.
wolfticket 21st April 2017, 17:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLyons@BOXFX
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeK
Genuine question: Can it be classed as anti-competative as users aren't forced to use Chrome?
I think it depends on market share.
Jeez, I'm out of touch. I had no idea Chrome had well passed 50% browser usage share in the EU. Combine that with 50%+ market share in all online advertising I think they could well have Microsoft-esque anti competitive behaviour issues in the EU at least, that is if regulators are so minded.
gosh 23rd April 2017, 02:06 Quote
so it's an ad-block that doesn't block ads ?
MLyons@BOXFX 24th April 2017, 09:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheapskate
I take it you've never used 'tube for listening to an ambient album, only to have it interrupted frequently by a 8 minute long ad for Brazilian hop-hop. Nothing quite kills your calm like having to rush the computer to stop the YO!YO!YO!

I think they added scripting that knows when you aren't at the computer and deliberately picks something speaker-breaking.

How else would you expect them to advertise in that situation? I can't think of another way.
wolfticket 24th April 2017, 15:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by gosh
so it's an ad-block that doesn't block ads ?
It's an adblock made by an ad company that blocks competitor's ads...

Or, for fear of libelling one of the biggest companies in the world:
It is an adblock that blocks intrusive ads that damage user experience while not undermining the fundamental financial model at allows most web content to exist. It will be conveniently built into one of the most popularly used browsers.

YMMV
Wwhat 25th April 2017, 18:00 Quote
Why do people here simply believe one commenter claiming Google ads are 'unobtrusive'? That is simply not true.
And as for the argument that you have a choice in using Chrome so blocking competitor ads is OK. I think they'll counter-argue that the adblock arrived long after first roping in people into using Chrome.
Plus apart from legal action there is also the chance the other players are going to deliberately think of a way to **** over Google in retaliation, like making deals that sites can only carry their ads or something.
theshadow2001 25th April 2017, 20:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by edzieba
My heart weeps for Ad Networks. No, wait, the other thing.
LOL! Yeah pretty much.

This is the advertisers own doing. They went with highly intrusive ads and strangely enough people started blocking all ads(who would have seen that coming), even the unintrusive ones.

Google needs to get people back on-side so that they are willing to accept at least some ads. A partial adblocker that only allows tamer ads through is better for Google in the long run. If the ads are passive enough, people won't bother installing an all out adblocker that will block Google's ads along with everything else.

Is it anti-competitive? Who cares! I refer you to Edzieba above.
David 25th April 2017, 21:18 Quote
The advertising arms race stepping waaaaay over the line, with the types of intrusive ads mentions in the news piece, is why I use an ad blocker - it was our nuclear option - they hurt themselves. If I could be guaranteed no intrusive ads, I'd drop ad block without hesitation.

It could be a great tool to make advertisers step back from the really annoying ads, however, I seriously doubt Google is going to play fair with this.
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