Google's browser will block ads by default: report

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

Here's yet another piece of news that makes me glad NBR has a subscription-heavy funding model: Google plans to add an ad-blocking feature to its popular Chrome web browser within weeks – and have it turned on by default, according to a Wall Street Journal report quoting unnamed insiders.

Ad blockers are already a bane for those trying to prosper in the cruel landscape of online advertising.

According to one report (albeit by a crowd pushing a tool to thwart the technology), nearly a quarter of Kiwis are now using software that blocks many web ads.

At the moment, those who want to block ads have to install a web browser extension. That’s actually straightforward but it takes several steps and involves jargon that’s offputting to mainstream users.

But Google’s apparent plan is to build web-blocking ability into Chrome, with the user required to turn it off if they don’t want it.

That could be a big step in making ad-blocking an everyday thing, as Chrome is now the world’s most popular browser by most measures and it happens to be NBR readers’ favourite too. Here are our visitor stats from the past week:

  1. Google Chrome: 38.30%
  2. Apple Safari 33.7%
  3. Microsoft Internet Explorer: 15.70%
  4. Mozilla Firefox: 4.87%
  5. Microsoft Edge: 3.32%
    Others: 4.38%

There are no prizes for guessing whether the Chrome ad-blocker will let Google’s own ads through.

But which will it block by default?

Insiders quoted by the WSJ says details are still being ironed out but the Chrome ad-blocker could “filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web …  Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and ‘prestitial’ ads with countdown timers are deemed to be “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”


10 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.


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10 Comments & Questions

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Google sells online advertising. Seems it's using its power in the browser market to undermine others competing with it for online advertising. Potential antitrust problem?

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It's almost certain someone will raise the antitrust issue -- and just as certain that Google could string things out for months or years of appeals, by which time the ad blocker war will be onto other technologies.

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NZ Herald and Stuff are below my threshold of consumer acceptability. Being forced to watch a 15 second ad to see a video clip that is usually just taken from social media anyway is absurd.
I guess this is the problem when the consumer is not the customer.

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"If You're Not Paying For It, You Become The Product."

So no you are not the customer...

Agree with your standard though. NZ Herald and Stuff also below my threshold of acceptable media behavior.

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Yep, that's what I was trying to say. Online stuff and herald consumers are not their customers.

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Best news in ages

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Biggest issue for me is how the ad-blocker blockers will respond. It is easy enough to force people who are switched on enough to install an ad blocker to turn it off to visit your webpage; but what about the masses?

I think that the way in which Google seem to be doing this makes sense. Block the crappy ads and let the good ones through - I don't mind advertising on websites, but some go so overboard that their sites are almost unusable without ad blockers.

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Might be interesting to note that Firefox has been experimenting with anti-tracking protection (which has the practical effect of blocking ads, as almost all of them track you around the web). It's enabled by default in private browsing, and can be turned on manually for everything else.

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Maybe NZHerald and Fairfax should apply a defibrillator to their remaining print assets, seeing as their digital first policy has hit a snag

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Anything that blocks ads and clickbait from Taboola and Outbrain will get a thumbs up from me. It'd even convince me to change browsers.

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