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article imageGoogle switches on Chrome's built-in ad blocker

By James Walker     Feb 15, 2018 in Technology
Google has enabled Chrome's controversial built-in ad blocker in an update released today. Starting with Chrome version 64, the browser will now automatically remove ads that Google deems to be intrusive. Users cannot globally disable the setting.
Google first announced its plans to add ad-blocking into Chrome last year. Although many web users already rely on ad blocker extensions, the decision to directly implement the functionality inside Chrome marks a change in Google's ad policies. As one of the largest ad providers, it may take a revenue hit now that some websites will be stripped of their monetisation.
According to Google, it's enabling the ad blocker to provide users with a better experience on the web. The company's targeting "particularly intrusive" ads which do not meet the guidelines set out by the Coalition for Better Ads. The organisation's Better Ads Standards were developed based on feedback from 40,000 Internet users. They generally exclude only the most invasive ads, such as full-screen prestitials and flashing animations.
If you visit a site that uses one of these ads, Chrome will now automatically remove it from the page. The browser will display a pop-up message to notify you it has taken action. Clicking the button will provide you with options to re-enable the ads or to always allow adverts on the current site.
Google's keen for the feature to be seen as a different form of ad-blocker to extensions such as AdBlock Plus. The majority of websites won't have their ads removed as a result of the feature's introduction. The company's only targeting the ad formats which it believes users find frustrating. However, Google's still faced criticism from browser users concerned it's abusing its browser monopoly to decide what constitutes "acceptable" web content.
Chrome acceptable ads
Chrome acceptable ads
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"The web is an ecosystem composed of consumers, content producers, hosting providers, advertisers, web designers, and many others," said Google. "It's important that we work to maintain a balance – and if left unchecked, disruptive ads have the potential to derail the entire system."
"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."
Publishers which do display non-compliant ads will have to switch to less intrusive formats if they want their sites to remain monetised. Google told TechCrunch that 42 percent of sites that violate the standards have already been altered in response to the changes.
Google's decision to take action on the content of websites is still likely to cause concern amongst publishers, although users should eventually benefit from the change. Google's overall aim is to push the web ecosystem towards a more sustainable future, where ads are accepted and used in a non-intrusive manner. This should result in an overall reduction in ad blocker usage, increasing publisher revenue.
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