Google today announced that Chrome’s ad blocker is expanding across the globe starting on July 9, 2019. As with last year’s initial ad blocker rollout, the date is not tied to a specific Chrome version. Chrome 76 is currently scheduled to arrive on May 30 and Chrome 77 is slated to launch on July 25, meaning Google will be expanding the scope of its browser’s ad blocker server-side.
Google last year joined the Coalition for Better Ads, a group that offers specific standards for how the industry should improve ads for consumers. In February, Chrome started blocking ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that display non-compliant ads, as defined by the coalition. When a Chrome user navigates to a page, the browser’s ad filter checks if that page belongs to a site that fails the Better Ads Standards. If so, network requests on the page are checked against a list of known ad-related URL patterns and any matches are blocked, preventing ads from displaying on the page.
Because the Coalition for Better Ads announced this week that it is expanding its Better Ads Standards beyond North America and Europe to cover all countries, Google is doing the same. In six months, Chrome will stop showing all ads on sites in any country that repeatedly display “disruptive ads.”
Results so far
On desktop, there are four types of ads the coalition has banned: pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdown, and large sticky ads. On mobile, there are eight types of banned ads: pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ad density higher than 30 percent, flashing animated ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, postitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads, and large sticky ads.
Google’s strategy is simple: Use Chrome to cut off ad revenue from websites that serve non-compliant ads. That said, 1 in every 40 pageviews can have a non-compliant ad — the goal is not to punish sites that are genuinely trying to serve compliant ads. The coalition understands all sorts of ads can make it onto a site, despite rules dictated to ad networks, header bidding solutions, and other partners. For a full list of approved ads, Google offers a best practices guide.
Google today also shared early results for Chrome’s ad blocker, as it has been working in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. As of January 1, 2019, two thirds of all publishers who were at one time non-compliant to the Better Ads Standards are now in good standing and less than 1 percent of the millions of sites Google has reviewed have had their ads filtered.
If you’re a site owner or administrator, use Google Search Console’s Abusive Experiences Report to check if your site contains abusive experiences that need to be corrected or removed. If any are found, you will have 30 days to fix them before Chrome starts blocking ads on your site. Starting today, publishers in regions outside of North America and Europe can use this tool as well. The Abusive Experiences Report shows intrusive ad experiences on your site, their current status (passing / no issues found or failing), and let you resolve outstanding issues or contest a review.
Selective ad blocking
Google has said repeatedly that it would prefer if Chrome did not have to block ads at all. The company’s main goal here is to improve the experience on the web. Indeed, the company has used Chrome’s ad blocker to tackle “abusive experiences” — not just ads.
Google has noted in the past that ad blockers hurt publishers (like VentureBeat) that create free content and threaten “the sustainability of the web ecosystem.” Despite the fact that Google makes the vast majority of its revenue from ads, the company sees its selective ad blocker as the natural evolution of pop-up blockers.
Chrome’s ad blocker thus does not block all ads for two reasons. First, it would completely cripple Alphabet’s revenue stream. And secondly, Google doesn’t want to hurt one of the web’s only monetization tools.
Chrome’s built-in ad blocker could one day reduce the usage of other third-party ad blockers that block all ads outright. But at least right now, Google isn’t doing anything to disrupt ad blockers, just bad ads.